Every Month is Nutrition Month!
The Building Healthy Communities program combines nutrition education with reading in many ways. Try to find ways that you could combine reading and nutrition at home. How about looking through a recipe book to find healthy recipes that taste good? Make a list of favorite foods that are healthy choices and create a shopping list together. While at the store, check out the ingredients list on a few of those labels with your child. Make every month one where you do lots of reading and fill your home with nutritious foods that are within your budget and that your family will enjoy!
#1 make Half your grains whole.
It can be challenging to eat whole grains half the time. How do you know if a food is a whole grain? Look for the word "whole" in the list of ingredients. You can also look at how many grams of fiber are listed on the Nutrition Facts label. If a food contains a high amount of fiber, chances are there is some whoe grain inside! If a food contains a high amount of fiber, chances are there is some whole grain inside! If your children shop with you, have them search for "whole" in the list of ingredients. Here are some examples: whole grain bread, pasta, tortillas, rolls, crackers, waffles, or bagels. Popcorn is a whole-grain food also. Cereasl and pizza crust can be made from whole grain flour. Search your pantry and see how many whole grain foods you can find. There are so many benefits to including more whole grains in your meals and snacks. Try to make half your grains whole!
#2 hOW MANY FRUITS AND VEGGIES DOES MY CHILD NEED?
My plate recommendations say that children need about 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit each day. But what equals a cup?
One cup of fruit equals:
1 cup of cut up fresh, frozen or canned fruit
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup of dried fruit
1 small apple
1 cup of 100% fruit juice
One cup of vegetables equals:
1 cup of fresh, frozen or canned non-leafy veggies
2 cups of leafy greens like spinach or lettuce
1 cup of cooked legumes (dried, cooked beans or split peas)
12 baby carrots
1 large bell pepper (size of a softball)
1 cup of 100% vegetable juice
It is very difficult to get a total of 4 1/2 cups of fruits and veggies each day, so work first on increasing how often you eat them and try to have a fruit or vegetable with every meal.
#3 Fresh, Frozen or Canned?
Although fresh fruit and veggies taste great, canned and frozen ones are also very nutritious. When you buy canned fruit, choose products that are in light syrup rather than "heavy." Frozen fruit is great to add to smoothies and you don't have to worry about it becoming too ripe and being wasted. You can rinse canned vegetables using a strainer or colander and reduce the amount of salt by more than half. Frozen vegetables are also handy to add to soups or spaghetti sauce, right out of the bag. No matter what form fruits and veggies are in, try to add more to your meals to work toward the goal of 4 1/2 cup goal Apples and baby carrors are great (and quick) snacks. Add bananas or berries to your cereal or yogurt. Keep raisins or other dried frit in the car. Tomatoes are a very healthy food. How many ways can you use them? (Tomato juice, canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, spaghetti or pizza sauce.)
#4 Think Green
Why not try to eat as many geen foods as you can for snacks? And of course those foods should be healthy ones! You could have green apples (they are healthier if you leave the peels on, broccoli (cooked or raw), and celery (try fillling it with peanut butter).
Research tells us that physical activity helps kids learn, pay attention and focus. You can insert quick physical breaks in your day like - dancing to the radio, walking the dog or climbing some stairs. Anything that gets you up and active!