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Featured Free Handout: Wintertime Food & Fitness
Recently updated, this puzzle page and recipe will remind kids to stay active and eat healthy, even when the temperature gauge reads "brrrrr." Included is a recipe for pumpkin softies, a treat which incorporates healthy ingredients. Challenge kids to compare  the portion size & sugar content in this treat to the pumpkin items at your local popular coffee chain! The handout also includes a bonus "Soup Like You Like It" activity sheet from Nutrition Fun with Brocc & Roll.  Download and share this free copy-ready handout with the families in your school or community.

Reset Your Family's Health Habits

There's no denying that Americans have been impacted by major social, cultural, and lifestyle changes over the past 30-40 years. Many of these lifestyle trends have contributed to the growing problem of both adult and child obesity and related health problems.

Don't you wish you could press a reset button and return to some of the family traditions of your youth that promoted better health? Did you play outside for hours on end? Walk to school? Eat family meals without fail? Drink the occasional soft drink out of an 8 oz. bottle (as opposed to daily gulps of 20, 44, or gasp, 64 oz.?)

As a society, when exactly did we decide that there are adult foods and kid foods? I guess my mom never got that memo. When I was growing up, we all ate the same food at the same time (and I don't recall chicken nuggets as part of the menu).

Below are eight ways to reset for better health. I'm sure you can think of more. Share your suggestions on our facebook page.

  1. Rethink the American concept of eating at every occasion and every location and instead, return to innate eating. In other words, learn to listen to your body's hunger/fullness signals and encourage your children to do the same. After all, infants are born knowing when they are hungry and precisely how much to eat at each feeding. We gradually lose this ability to respond to body cues as we are exposed to environmental and cultural influences.

  2. Reset to family meals as the default meal each day. Drive through dining, eating on the run, or grabbing mall or ballpark food should be reserved for rare occasions. Ask your child to help you with the planning, shopping and cooking. You will be amazed at how this impacts his/her attitude about food.

  3. Think retro in regards to plates, bowls and glasses. It's no coincidence that the size of our dinnerware has increased in sync with our waistlines. Bigger dishes = bigger portions. Try using salad plates as dinner plates and bowls designed for dip or salsa for breakfast cereal. 

  4. Choose restaurants that care about kids' health. Instead of soda pop, French fries, and chicken nuggets, ask for meals that automatically default to healthy sides such as salad, apple slices, milk, or baby carrots. 

  5. When kids are bored and out of ideas, make active play the default choice for "what to do." Set time limits on all electronic-based toys, computers, movies and television. 

  6. Teach children this equation: THIRST = WATER! Serve 1% or nonfat milk as the default beverage at meals, and limit 100% fruit juice to 0-6 ounces each day.

  7. Reset snack time as the occasion to refuel active, growing bodies with mostly healthy choices, not just sweets and treats. Provide easy choices such as cut-up fruits and vegetables, lower sugar yogurt and cheese, single servings of whole grain crackers or bread, lean protein sources, and nuts or seeds.

  8. While public health policy and legislation are useful tools (think: nutrition on menu boards, healthy school meals, incentives for healthy behaviors), it will always ultimately be our choice to practice healthy habits. As you head into a new year, consider real personal change that will impact you, your family, and your community. After all, both good and bad habits are contagious!

Related: Download our handout 10 Steps to Healthy Habits.

Give the Gift of a New Nutrition Culture
Are you looking to make a difference this year in the lives of families and children? The book How to Teach Nutrition to Kids and the accompanying activity guide Nutrition Fun with Brocc & Roll actively engage kids in health promoting activities that are also a whole lot of fun. Packed with ideas that empower children to evaluate nutrition information, make smart food choices and creatively prepare food, this book is used in thousands of schools, hospitals, scouting programs, 4-H, summer camps, and many other youth-focused initiatives. Order today from Amazon or directly from 24 Carrot Press.
Thanks for your interest in child nutrition!

Connie Evers, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD
Board Certified Sports Science Dietitian
Pediatric Dietitian
Child Nutrition Consultant & Speaker
Copyright 2015 Nutrition For Kids, All rights reserved.