March- National Nutrition Month
You are what you eat!
Cook with your family
"Research shows that family meals promote healthier eating – more fruits, vegetables and fiber; less fried food; and often fewer calories" says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Angela Ginn. Not only is it fun but gives families the opportunity to spend time together and talk and listen to each other. Start with one meal a week and build up. Also, choose things that most members of the family like. Here are a few tips-
- Start slowly. "However many meals you eat as a family now, add one more to your weekly schedule. If school nights are too hectic for a family dinner, make it a leisurely weekend breakfast or lunch. After a few weeks, add another family meal to your schedule," Ginn says.
- Plan tasty menus together. "Putting together a family meal does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. Let every member of the family choose a favorite item and build simple, delicious meals around them. Even small children can pick a main dish like tacos or pasta, a vegetable like a green salad or cooked carrots and sliced apples or fruit salad for dessert," Ginn says.
- Set the right mood. "Food is just one important part of mealtime. Your table setting can improve the mealtime mood with very little expense: a candle, colored napkins and wipe-clean plastic tablemats for children," Ginn says.
- Talk! "The conversations families have while eating together have a huge impact, as you share experiences and ideas, and pass along family values. Pick topics that are positive and allow everyone to talk. Even toddlers like to discuss topics like 'What is your favorite color?' or 'What made you laugh today?'" Ginn says.
- Turn off the TV, phones and anything else that makes noise. "They create distractions that can throw off any family's mealtime routine," Ginn says. "Declare mealtime a TV- and phone-free zone, except for emergencies, of course. Instead, put on some background music, played at low volume, to add a relaxing atmosphere."
Tips for health snacking!
- Plan your snacks. "Keep a variety of tasty, nutrient-rich, ready-to-eat foods nearby, for when you need a bite to take the edge off hunger. Then, you won't be so tempted by less-healthy options from vending machines, convenience stores or the contents of your own kitchen." Snack ideas include fresh fruit, air-popped popcorn, whole-wheat crackers, dried fruit and nut mixes, almonds and fat-free yogurt.
- Make snack calories count. "Snack on foods that fill the nutrient gaps in your day's eating plan. Think of snacks as mini-meals to help you eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy – foods we often don’t eat enough."
- Go easy on high-calorie snacks such as chips, candy and soft drinks. "They often contain solid fats, and added sugars. Make these occasional choices that fit your day's plan."
- Snack when you're hungry – not because you’re bored, stressed or frustrated. "Exercise can actually be a great way to feed those emotional urges."
- Snack on sensible portions. "Choose single-serve containers, or put a small helping in a bowl rather than eating directly from the package."
- Quench your thirst. "Water, low-fat or fat-free milk and 100-percent juice are just a few options. Flavored waters might be high in added sugars, so check the label."