Health & Fitness

Celebrate Nutrition Month by helping your kids put their best fork forward

Fruit smoothies can be quick and easy breakfast choices — and kids usually love them.
Fruit smoothies can be quick and easy breakfast choices — and kids usually love them. The Associated Press

Parents are the most important role models for their children. For National Nutrition Month, which is celebrated each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages parents to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” by modeling healthful eating habits – one forkful at a time.

When we talk about “cooking from scratch,” many kids think that means opening a box and adding water. Really?! As parents, it is our responsibility to pass down the art of cooking to the next generation. It’s a survival skill.

Real cooking from scratch means using whole, fresh foods. These foods yield the highest nutrient content, have the least added chemicals and fillers and taste better. Local fresh foods rate the highest of all.

Teaching our children how to cook not only improves their diets, but also promotes families eating together at the table. Cooking with your kids is the best way to teach the principles of good nutrition and help them develop healthy eating habits for life.

Cooking also reinforces math (measuring ingredients), chemistry (how ingredients react and change with cooking) and language (reading recipes). Parents are the most important role models for their children, so you too need to “put your best fork forward.”

Here are some simple changes families can make to their eating habits:

▪  Start your family’s day with a nutritious breakfast. Good nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. Smoothies, for instance, are fast and delicious as well as easy for kids to make from “scratch.” (See the Blue Banana Smoothie recipe online at eatright.org.)

▪  During each meal, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

▪  Make at least half of the grains you eat whole grains.

▪  Talk positively about eating healthy foods. Your kids are listening.

▪  Work with a registered dietitian nutritionist to create a plan that works best for you and your family.

Making small changes in the kitchen is just one part of becoming healthier over time. Improving overall well-being requires a lifelong commitment to healthful lifestyle behaviors, including daily physical exercise. Parents can provide opportunities and encourage their children to spend time each day playing and participating in fun, physical activities.

As part of National Nutrition Month, the academy’s website at eatright.org includes articles, recipes, videos and educational resources to spread the message of good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Consumers can also follow National Nutrition Month on Facebook and Twitter (#NationalNutritionMonth).

And if you are looking for a dietitian, it’s important to check on credentials. All registered dietitians are nutritionists – but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The Academy’s Board of Directors and Commission on Dietetic Registration have determined that those who hold the credential registered dietitian (RD) may optionally use “registered dietitian nutritionist” (RDN) instead. The two credentials have identical meanings.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Learn more about the academy at eatright.org.

SeAnne Safaii-Waite, Ph.D., R.D., L.D., is an assistant professor at the University of Idaho Dietetics Program and past president of the Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This article cites information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics prepared for National Nutrition Month. Learn more at eatright.org.

Dietitians are health heroes

Do you know or work with a dietitian? Give her or him some props on Wednesday, March 8. It’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day as celebrated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eating a healthy diet is essential to our well-being, and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day was created to increase awareness of the important role that dietitians play in our health and healing. A RDN can use their nutrition expertise to help you make positive lifestyle changes. And from gastroenterology problems to cancer care, a good dietitian can be a vital part of your medical team to help you get through a health challenge. Food is medicine and dietitians can show you how to make the most of it. Visit eatright.org to find a RDN in the Treasure Valley and for more information on eating right. Your health-care provider or hospital may also be able to help you find the right RDN for you.

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