Consistent, healthy food choices are what matter in the long run, and that’s why the 2020 National Nutrition Month theme is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite.”
[Note to readers: This article predates the coronavirus pandemic, but shares sage advice in any setting.]
Created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month is celebrated each March to emphasize the importance of enjoying healthy food and physical activity. The academy is the largest group of nutrition professionals in the U.S., focused on pairing evidence-based science with eating habits for both longevity and quality of life.
“We can make every meal and snack count toward health and wholeness,” said Laura Barr Walker, University of Illinois Extension educator. “Families, especially, have the opportunity to foster good habits for future generations. It is important to develop a taste for healthy foods and eat meals with others. During mealtime, keep the TV off and cellphones out of reach to make room for encouraging conversation and fellowship.”
She provides three additional teaching tips for parents and families.
Plan meals and snacks in ways that include all family members.
“Let children choose fruit and vegetables while shopping and encourage them to choose ones they have never tried before,” Barr Walker said. “Use meal planning and preparation as an educational tool for good nutrition.”
Give your family time to be together at meals, enjoy the flavors and relax.
“Mindful eating goes a long way to maintain healthy weight by tuning into hunger and full cues,” she said. “Play together as a family, building physical fitness in your daily routine."
Teach food safety, starting with proper handwashing before preparing or eating any food, she said. Also, remember to refrigerate leftovers promptly, cook meats to their proper temperature and keep ready-to-eat foods away from raw foods.
“These practices will keep you, your family and friends healthy as we celebrate nutrition this month and throughout the year.”
For information on Extension programs in your area, visit go.illinois.edu/extensiondkk.