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Four Ways to Help Your Kids Make Healthier Food Choices

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By: Melissa McGowan, Public Health Advisor, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH

If you are like many people, you want to eat healthy and help your family eat healthy, too.  But that is often easier said than done.  As part of National Nutrition Month this March, the We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) program, developed by the National Institutes of Health, has some tips and tools that can help you and your family make healthier food choices.

Go for GO Foods

Whether you are doing your weekly grocery shopping or trying to decide what to grab for lunch, think of GO foods first.  GO foods are low in fat, sugar and calories and are “nutrient dense” (rich in vitamins and other nutrients). Examples include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats, poultry and fish, beans and nuts. Find more information on GO, SLOW and WHOA foods, including a downloadable tip sheet for kids!

Cooking: A Family Activity

You might be surprised, but one way to get kids to try new, healthy foods is to have them help in the kitchen.  Kids are more likely to try the foods they have helped make, so if you can involve your kids in making a healthy meal, it can be a win-win.  

Depending on their age, kids can help wash fruits and vegetables, tear lettuce leaves, mix and pour ingredients, measure ingredients or help slice, dice, and chop.  Try some of these family-friendly and healthy recipes to get your family involved in the kitchen and eating well!

Shopping Healthy on a Budget

Buying healthy foods, even on a budget, can be easier if you know what types of food to shop for in the store.  First, make a shopping list, and include a lot of GO foods.  Look for fruits and vegetables that are in season; they often cost less.  And remember that buying canned or frozen veggies and fruit without added salt or fat can be healthy options.  

When on sale, stock up on items like lean meat, fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt.  Compare brands and package sizes to find the best deals.  Often store brands cost less.  Find more information on shopping healthy.  

Eating Healthy When Eating Out

Making healthy choices when you go out to eat can often be a challenge.  If you find yourself at a fast food restaurant at the end of a busy day, try making healthier choices such as sandwiches without cheese, salads with low-fat or fat-free dressing, replacing french fries with sliced fruit, and swapping fried meats for grilled options.  

To cut back portion sizes, consider splitting an entry or putting half in a doggie bag to take home.  And stick with drinks like water, fat-free or low-fat milk, or unsweetened tea that have fewer calories and added sugar.  Find more tips on eating healthy on the go.

These are just a few tips and strategies to help you and your family make healthy choices.  For additional information on healthy eating and increasing physical activity, go to the We Can! website.

National Nutrition Month Twitter Chat

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By Kids.gov

We know with everyone’s busy schedules these days it can be hard to find healthy eating options for your family, and convince your kids to actually eat the nutritious food you find. That’s why in honor of National Nutrition Month, Kids.gov is hosting a live Twitter chat on Wednesday, March 5th at 1 p.m. EST.

Join us and other experts from across the government, including MyPlate, The National Institutes of Health, Girlshealth.gov, USDA and USA.gov to chat about the difficulties of keeping up with healthy nutrition for your kids and family and to get tips and advice on how to make it easier for you to encourage healthy eating for your kids during a busy day at work or school.

Use the hashtag #NNMforkids to join the conversation!

Image description: We know convincing your kids to eat their fruits and veggies can sometimes be a challenge. But it doesn’t always have to be! 
Join Kids.gov for a Twitter chat on Wednesday, March 5 at 1 p.m. ET to get healthy-eating tips for your kids!
Follow @Kidsgov on Twitter and use the hashtag #NNMforkids.
You can also ask questions on Facebook and Twitter in advance that we’ll answer during the live event.

Image description: We know convincing your kids to eat their fruits and veggies can sometimes be a challenge. But it doesn’t always have to be! 

Join Kids.gov for a Twitter chat on Wednesday, March 5 at 1 p.m. ET to get healthy-eating tips for your kids!

Follow @Kidsgov on Twitter and use the hashtag #NNMforkids.

You can also ask questions on Facebook and Twitter in advance that we’ll answer during the live event.

Small Steps to Improve Your Nutrition

A healthy diet isn’t about looking good in your skinny jeans. Obesity rates are much higher than they were in the 1970s and if you’re obese, you have an increased risk of health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. March is National Nutrition Month, here to remind us to make informed, healthy food choices every day.

We can all do a thing or two to improve our diets, and you can start making a few small changes to your diet now. Balancing your calories to manage your weight is important, but remember that your body needs nutrition from food.  By eating less of some foods, like things high in sodium, sugar, and refined grains we have more room in our diets for the things we should eat more of, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

There are many small steps you can take to improve your diet, so put veggies on your pizza instead of pepperoni, snack on dried fruit, and color your plate with salad.