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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.

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.

Easy Tips to Manage Your Children’s Health

Keeping your kids healthy is one of your top priorities as a parent, but it’s not always an easy task. Between staying on top of their normal checkups and trying to get them to wash their hands before dinner, there are a lot of things that could slip through the cracks. Use these tips from we rounded up from across the government to make managing your kids’ health a little easier.

Stay up-to-date with your children’s immunizations and developmental milestones with an easy tracking chart you can download for free from Publications.USA.gov. It reminds you of all the necessary immunizations from infancy through age six. It also highlights developmental milestones—like recognizing a caregiver’s voice and learning to talk—that you can monitor as your children grow up.

If you’re struggling to pay for health insurance for your kids, they may be eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP offers free or low-cost medical coverage for kids up to 19 years old. Coverage for eligible children includes checkups, hospital visits, dental coverage, immunizations and more. Find out if they’re eligible at InsureKidsNow.gov/chip.

Sometimes your kids don’t want to listen to mom or dad, but you want them to get information from a trusted source. Point them to the health resources on Kids.gov, where they can learn about everything from keeping their eyes safe to understanding germs and where they can play fun games that drive home the importance of brushing their teeth or getting their shots.

Find more free guides on managing your children’s health from infant to teen at Publications.USA.gov.

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From Stopbullying.gov:


Kids may be less likely to report bullying as they grow older. Try these tips for keeping the lines of communication open: http://1.usa.gov/xmLj1v

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From Stopbullying.gov:

Kids may be less likely to report bullying as they grow older. Try these tips for keeping the lines of communication open: http://1.usa.gov/xmLj1v

Image description: How much will that little bundle of joy cost? According to USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child report, the answer for a child born in 2012 is $241,080 for food, shelter and other necessities over the next 17 years.
Use the interactive calculator to find out how much it will cost you to raise kids.
Infographic from the USDA.

Image description: How much will that little bundle of joy cost? According to USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child report, the answer for a child born in 2012 is $241,080 for food, shelter and other necessities over the next 17 years.

Use the interactive calculator to find out how much it will cost you to raise kids.

Infographic from the USDA.