National Nutrition Month is HERE!

How can your family "Go Beyond the Table"?

By Julianna Gilleo, MS, RDN, Publisher Macaroni Kid Hunterdon, NJ February 22, 2024

Every March we celebrate National Nutrition Month®. This year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is focused on how we can “Go Beyond the Table”. The focus of the month is to encourage mindfulness about the impact daily nutrition choices have on well-being and the environment. This is the perfect time to consider making small dietary changes which, over time, can play a significant role in improving the health of your family. I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist as well as a mom of 3 kids, so I completely understand how difficult the thought of this might be. Luckily, I have a few (realistic) ways that you can help your family make healthier choices not only this month, but all year.  

1. Practice Mindful Eating! 

Mindful eating is a practice that helps kids develop a stronger connection with food. Encourage your family to focus on the present and connect thoughts and feelings to the food that fuels our bodies. Mindfulness means placing our full attention on something. There should be no distractions (tablets, phones, tv, etc.) Try to stay in the moment, relax, and notice thoughts and feelings (both physically and emotionally). Explaining mindfulness and why it is important helps children recognize hunger and fullness cues, slow down when eating, and fully enjoy snacks or meals! 

Image Credit: Tetiana Nekrasova from capturenow via Canva

2. Go Go Get H2O! 

Water doesn't have to be boring! Try to infuse water with lemons, limes, berries, cucumber, or mint for added flavor. In our house it is all about the water bottles. My three year old won't leave the house without her "Frozen" water bottle. You also can try to add fun straws, little umbrellas, or other festive decorations. 

3.  Eat the Rainbow! 

No, I am not talking about candy! 

Color your life with more fruits and vegetables. Every time you add a fruit or vegetable to a dish you are adding both flavor and texture. The more colors, the better! All of us need this variety each day. If you use a rainbow as a guide, you will get the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. The color makes a difference because plants also contain phytochemicals (which have health promoting properties). 

Image Credit: Zak Hourmouzis from Getty Images

4. Bring Your Lunch! 

You can eat healthier and save money when you pack your own lunch. You want to make sure that you pick foods from a variety of food groups so you can maximize your energy for the day. Try to pick colorful fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, 100% whole-wheat bread, brown rice or pasta, and lean protein sources such as, chicken, fish, beans, or eggs.  

5. Get the Kids in the Kitchen! 

Spending time in the kitchen is not only a great way to bond with your kids, but it also is a confidence builder. Cooking can make your child feel accomplished and proud, it encourages them to think. Assign some age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen, for example, measuring ingredients, pressing the button on the blender, or being in charge of the timer. It is so sweet to see their faces as they serve family and friends the dish that they just made. Plus, having older kids involved makes less work for you! 

Looking for more fun in Hunterdon, NJ? 

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