One of the reasons we celebrate National Nutrition Month every March is to show families that eating healthy does not need to be a hassle or add stress to our lives. In 2023 the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is focused on how we can "Fuel for the Future."
As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a busy family life, I understand how difficult it can seem to make sure that every meal is balanced. Here are 5 of my favorite tips and tricks to help your family try to incorporate healthy eating, not only this month, but all year long!
1. Limit screens at mealtime
When you are eating, you want to practice and teach mindfulness, so limit screen distractions at mealtime. This includes TV, phones, computers, tablets, video games ... anything electronic.
Instead, focus on the meal and enjoy the taste of your food and the people you are dining with. Engage in conversation together.
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2. Start a weekly fruit and vegetable challenge
Each week when you go to the grocery store, pick out one new fruit or vegetable that your family can try together. It can be fresh, canned (look for no salt-added varieties), or frozen. On the day you make it part of a meal, talk with your kids about what you enjoy (or don't enjoy) about it. Maybe you'll find a new favorite fruit or vegetable to add to your family's diet!
3. Try Meatless Monday
Some really versatile choices in place of meat? Try beans, peas, and lentils! These plant-based protein sources work in various dishes from chili to soups and salads. Here are some quick and easy on-the-go salad ideas!
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4. Cook together!
No matter what age your kids are, you can have them actively help you in the kitchen. Even if it is just mixing something with you or adding some pre-cut veggies to a salad, everyone can help. Plus, as a bonus, getting older kids involved lessens the amount of work you need to do!
5. Schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Registered Dietitians have a ton of knowledge when it comes to food and nutrition for families. As a pediatric dietitian, I love helping families find the best ways to lead healthy lives together. Dietitians can help with general healthy eating goals or more individualized issues that may be going on in your family (diabetes, obesity, eating disorders, picky eating, food allergies, etc.) You can use the "Find a Nutrition Expert" feature on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website to find one near you!
Julianna Gilleo is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and publisher of Macaroni KID Hunterdon, NJ.