Helping Kids Eat Right

Danna F. Gillett  |  3/7/2011 10:17:15 PM

One of the biggest challenges parents face is getting their children to consume healthy meals and snacks. The American Dietetic Association has designated March as National Nutrition Month. This year's theme, "Eat Right with Color," encourages parents to make sure their children are getting all of the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.

A lot of attention has been focused on the childhood obesity epidemic, but even children of normal weight can have poor nutrition habits. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently reported that the diets of children, teens and adults are deficient in dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium and potassium. Whole grains, fruits and vegetable are all excellent sources of dietary fiber and vitamins. Dairy products provide calcium, and liquid milk is often fortified with Vitamin D.

To ensure family members are getting all the nutrients that need for good health, parents should include a variety of foods and colors in every meal. These tips can help all family members to "Eat Right with Color":

  • Serve whole-grain cereals for breakfast. Many popular brands contain whole grains, but parents should read the label carefully and avoid those high in sugar.
  • Offer kid-friendly "white" whole-wheat bread for sandwiches, crunchy whole-grain crackers for snacks and whole-grain pastas for dinner.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables at every meal. For breakfast, add fresh or frozen berries to cereal, serve slices of melon or a glass of 100 percent orange juice.
  • Pack baby carrots or sliced apples in the lunch box.
  • For dinner, fill a least half of the plate with colorful vegetables and fruits.
  • So children and teens will get the three recommended daily dairy servings, offer an 8-ounce glass of low-fat milk with breakfast, lunch and dinner; yogurt parfaits for breakfast or an after-school snack; or string cheese for an on-the-go energy snack.

For more information visit www.extension.org or the USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center at http://fnic.nal.usda.gov .

Submitted by Danna Gillett, the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Richland Parish. This article originally appeared in The Richland Beacon and The Delhi Dispatch on March 10, 2011.

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