Have you talked to your kids about nutrition and how to build a healthy relationship with food? If the answer is no, it’s not too late to start. Those lessons can be learned at any age.
March is National Nutrition Month. According to the CDC, fewer than one in ten children and adults eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables. Studies have shown that dietary habits translate into adulthood. So it is important to introduce healthy food habits with your kids at home. These tips can help you get started.
Don’t just tell them, show them.
- It’s important to talk about nutrition, but you should also walk the walk with your kids.
- Keep fruits and veggies stocked at home. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish and lentils for protein and whole grains like oats and brown rice.
- Use healthy fats in your cooking, like avocados, olive oil, nuts and certain fish.
- Take your children grocery shopping with you and have them help build your shopping list. Use this time to teach them about the five food groups and different types of fruits and veggies.
- Limit the foods you buy that are high in sodium and added sugars.
Talk about nutrition in factual terms they can understand.
- Talk with your children about the benefits of certain foods. Some provide vitamins and minerals. Some give you energy, while others make you stronger or fill you up.
- Review basic vocabulary words like fiber, protein, carbs, fats, and so on. Explain how each element provides our bodies with a different function.
- Helpful worksheets and activities can also help your child learn more about nutrition. Myplate.gov, the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, is a great resource.
Make family mealtimes a routine.
- Use mealtimes to bond as a family and teach nutritional lessons.
- According to the American Psychological Association, mealtime with a family can help children by providing socialization, routine and emotional connection.
- Studies also show that adolescents who routinely eat meals with family eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Even 18-20 minutes per day of mealtime with family can make a huge difference.