By Kelly Ostrem
March is National Nutrition Month! It’s the perfect time to refresh the whole family’s diet with some healthy alternatives. While getting kids to eat their fruits and veggies isn’t always an easy task, here are a few ideas to get kids a little more excited about eating healthy.
Take your pick:
Give your kids some ownership over the food they eat. Take them to the store with you and let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable. Then, work together to make a recipe or create a dish with that new food and try it together. Discuss what you like and don’t like about it. If you found a winner, make it again.
Snacks on the go:
Our busy lives keep us always on the go. Pack snacks that travel well, like dried fruit or trail mix with whole grain cereal and nuts. Aim to have a couple of options in a baggie or disposable container so you can be ready when hunger strikes. It’s easier to say no to an unhealthy temptation when you’re prepared with something better.
Take a dip:
Get creative with dips. Use spices, not sugar, to jazz up your dip. Herbs and garlic mixed into yogurt is great with veggies. Put cinnamon in vanilla yogurt for a delicious fruit dip.
Play with your food:
Make meals and snacks interactive and fun! This will help make eating healthy a positive experience. How can you do this? Cut food into fun shapes. Have your child build their own pizza, making a design out of vegetable toppings. Make a baked potato face with healthy toppings. Make kabobs with fruit or veggies. Freeze fruits on a stick for a healthy treat. Have your children invent a snack with healthy ingredients and let them name it too.
G-I-Y (grow it yourself):
Start a garden with your child. Whether you have space in the back yard or just in a pot or two, plant the seeds and watch your own vegetables grow. This is a great way to show kids that our food doesn’t just come from a grocery store, but seeds and dirt in the earth. Then they can literally eat the fruits of their labor. Mission Valley Y offers a “Learn & Grow” class that’s free for family members. The class spends time in the Y’s organic garden, plants seeds, picks ripe veggies and learns about nature.
And remember, one of the best ways to encourage kids to eat well is eating well yourself! Your actions speak volumes to your kids, so if you let your child notice that you snack on fresh, healthy foods, he or she will take notice.