As a health professional and the parent of two school-aged boys, I’m a firm believer that a healthy diet sets the foundation for a healthy life. Proper nutrition plays a vital role in healthy development — from your heart and brain to your social-emotional well-being. In kids, quality nutrition is even linked to increased academic achievement.
In honor of March’s National Nutrition Month™, here are three simple ways you can boost kids’ health and empower them to make healthier choices:
1. Advocate for healthy schools
Outside the home, kids spend the majority of their time at school, making it a vital place to teach healthy eating habits. Offering nutritious meals and snacks, hosting healthier celebrations and supporting staff wellness are just a few of the ways school policies and practices can promote good health. Get involved with your school’s wellness committee to find out how you can advocate for a healthier learning environment.
2. Get kids involved
Kids are more likely to make healthy food choices when they’re involved in their food preparation and decisions. Engage kids at home or in the classroom by inviting them to grow an indoor herb garden or participate in a “taste test” to try a new fruit or vegetable. These activities offer a chance to introduce or revisit basic nutrition lessons while building a positive association with healthy foods.
3. Choose the healthiest option on-the-go
Casual and fast-food restaurants offer more healthy options than ever before, and many have taken steps to ensure your family can make more informed food choices. When dining out, look for child-sized portions and simple menu swaps to add more fruit, vegetables and whole grains to your meal. Choose water or low-calorie beverages for healthy hydration, too.
This list merely scratches the surface on the many ways you can empower kids to adopt healthier habits. From family trips to the local farmers market or teaming up with neighbors to ensure your community promotes a healthy lifestyle, every small effort leads to transformational change.
For more tips to champion kids’ health visit www.healthiergeneration.org
Kathy Higgins, CEO, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, [email protected]