Nutrition Notes: August is ‘Kids Eat Right’ Month!

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

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With childhood obesity on the rise, it is important to make sure kids are eating right and getting plenty of exercise.

Parents and caregivers can play a big role in a child’s nutrition and overall health by teaching kids about the benefits of fueling their bodies with healthy foods and encouraging them to spend less time sitting and more time moving. Plus, it is much easier to inspire kids to make good choices when you practice what you preach, too! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has some steps families can take to encourage healthy eating and active lifestyles:

1. Shop Smart. To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

2. Cook Healthy. Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of meals. They will learn about food and may even be enticed to try new foods they helped prepare.

3. Eat Right. Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day’s experiences with one another. Research indicates that those families who eat together have a stronger bond, and children have higher self-confidence and perform better in school.

4. Healthy Habits. You can help kids form great, healthy habits by setting a good example. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose lower-sodium options, and male at least half the grains your family eats whole grains. For beverages, choose water over sugary drinks, and opt for fat-free or low-fat milk.

5. Get Moving. Aside from being a great way to spend time together, regular physical activity is vital to strengthen muscle and bones, promote a healthy body weight, support learning, develop social skills and build self-esteem. Kids are encouraged to be active for at least 60 minutes per day.

Getting kids to eat right can sometimes be a challenge, especially if they are picky eaters. But experts say that a conversation can help.

“Talk to your children. Learn the food they like. Teach them about the foods they need for their growing bodies. Find ways together to make sure they have the knowledge and ability to eat healthy and tasty foods at every meal,” explains Angela Lemond, registered dietician and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.

It may help to consult a registered dietician in your area to ensure your family is getting the nutrients it needs with a meal plan tailored to your lifestyle and busy schedule.

To learn more about ‘Kids Eat Right’ month, please visit www.KidsEatRight.org.

This August, reevaluate your family’s exercise and eating habits, and take steps to make positive, healthful changes.

*This blog post was adapted from the www.kidseatright.org website. All rights reserved to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.