This August, celebrate the first ever Kids Eat Right Month! Kids Eat Right Month is a new nutrition education campaign focusing on healthy nutrition and active lifestyles for children and families. When children start healthy habits early in life, they continue those healthy habits as teens and adults.
How can we start children making healthier food choices? It all starts at home: when kids have an active role in preparing meals, they are more likely to try new foods and eat healthy ones. Here are some ways to engage your children in food preparation, from purchasing to cooking:
- Take your child shopping with you and let them choose foods for meals – but make sure they choose something healthy! Be specific. For example, ask them to pick a vegetable from the produce section for dinner.
- Sit down as a family for meals each day. Children who eat family meals tend to do better in school!
- Let your child get involved with simple cooking techniques. Some ideas, based on age –
Under 5 years old: wash vegetables in colander; pour ingredients and help with measuring; mix ingredients with hands; help cut with a cookie cutter; roll or shake ingredients
8-10 year olds: cut fruits and veggies with a plastic or dinner knife; crack eggs; stir food over the stove; read the recipe; grate cheese; use a can opener
Activity is also very important! Kids’ growing bodies need plenty of movement to help them stay strong as they grow, and starting the routine of physical activity now increases the likelihood that they will continue to exercise throughout their lives. Children should aim for at least one hour of physical activity each day. You don’t need to sign up for sports teams or classes to get allof your activity in. Here are some basic tips to get your kids moving:
- Instead of driving, walk or bike short distances.
- Turn up the radio and have a dance party! Even better if it’s while you’re cooking dinner.
- Exercise with your child, even if it is just a walk around the neighborhood
Here is a fun recipe that’s perfect for kids to make. Super healthy and packed with vitamins and fiber! (found at www.superkidsnutrition.com)
1 medium pear, diced
1 mango, diced
1 pint strawberries, diced
2 plums, diced
1 teaspoon honey
Directions: Place fruit in large bowl. Drizzle with honey and toss to combine. Serve with 100% whole wheat pita chips and enjoy! You can also use it to top a green salad, chicken breast or fish.
Kid-friendly Tasks: gathering ingredients, dicing fruit (for older kids), placing chopped fruit into a bowl, drizzling honey, mixing, placing pita chips and salsa on serving platter.
More fun tips and information can be found at http://www.eatright.org/kids/
-Ashley Holt, Dietetic Intern