It’s August, which means it’s Kids Eat Right Month.
This nationwide campaign emphasizes the importance of healthy eating and active lifestyles for youth of all ages.
What better time to take an honest look at your family’s eating and physical activity habits and make positive, healthy changes.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following:
Shop smart. To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table.
While getting shopping input works well with older children, consider adapting this recommendation for younger children.
In my house, I choose which food group I want my three-year-old to eat, and I give her a choice between two options within that food group. For example: Would you like yogurt or string cheese for your snack?
This encourages a balanced eating pattern, while giving my daughter a sense of control over her own food choices.
Cook and eat together. Involve your children in preparing meals. Just be sure to choose age-appropriate tasks to set everyone up for success, rather than stress.
For my preschooler, this looks like washing grapes, spreading peanut butter on bread, stirring ingredients or pushing buttons on the microwave.
Sit down as a family whenever possible to enjoy a meal together. This encourages bonding and good eating habits, even if only done a couple times a week.
Healthy habits. As the role model of your household, one of the best things you can do to help your children form healthy habits is set a good example.
Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose lower-sodium options and make at least half the grains your family eats whole grains. For beverages, choose water over drinks with added sugars most often.
Even though my daughter has recently become a picky eater, I have no doubt that watching her mom and dad enjoy a variety of healthy foods will lead her to try them—eventually.
Get moving. Aside from being a great way to spend time together, regular physical activity strengthens muscle and bones, promotes a healthy body weight, supports learning, develops social skills and builds self-esteem.
Preschool age children are encouraged to be active throughout the day, while older children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily.
This doesn’t need to be accomplished in one shot, so encourage mini activity breaks to get that blood pumping throughout the day.
Have fun, eat well and be active together—you won’t regret it.
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