For many people, January is a time to reflect, re-energize, and focus on changing bad habits. Many people pledge to lose weight, eat better, unplug more, cook often, and exercise more.
This year, why not choose a resolution the whole family can have fun doing together? In honor of the new year, we have a compiled a two-part series about how to introduce your kids to healthy eating.
Pyramid Out, Plate In
Before we dive into ways to eat healthily, let’s discuss what it should mean for your family. In 2011, the USDA replaced the long-taught food pyramid with the simpler, Food Plate. Instead of focusing on an entire day, the Food Plate focuses on what your plate should look like during every meal.
Say Goodbye to Serving Sizes
The plate is divided into four food groups (fruits, vegetables, protein, and grains), with a glass of dairy next to it. Choosemyplate.gov recommends half of your plate is made up of whole grains, varying your vegetables, getting calcium-rich foods, and finding a balance between food and physical activity. It teaches kids to embrace/build a healthy lifestyle at an early age by:
- Focusing on variety, amount, and nutrition
- Choosing foods and beverages with less saturated fat, sodium, and sugars
- Starting with small changes to build healthier eating styles
- Supporting healthy eating for everyone.
Little Lessons, Big Impact
It’s no secret that Americans don’t get straight A’s when it comes to our health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults are considered obese. A Journal of the American Medical Association study concluded that nearly one-quarter of American children and teenagers are obese.
However, there is hope. The National Institutes of Health suggests that kids with “food values” (ones who have learned to prefer and choose vegetables and fruits) are significantly more likely to keep up their healthy eating lifestyle throughout adulthood. So taking the time to reinforce these habits now can improve your child’s long-term health.
Like produce, it’s best to get your information from the source. The science is always being updated, and the internet is an endless sea of information, and it’s easy to get consumed by too many unverified articles. For further reading, we recommend the United States Department of Agriculture's website, National Institutes of Health, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, and American Cancer Society.
Stay tuned for part two of this series where we discuss how to introduce your child to healthy eating.