August was ‘Kid’s Eat Right Month’, a new awareness and education campaign that aims to help families ensure their children’s nutritional needs are being met. This effort, which is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its Foundation, encourages families to shop together, cook together, and sit down together to eat. Here in Arizona, we are blessed with a long growing season and farmers’ markets that operate all year round. This helps make it easier for families to fill their plates with healthy meals made from locally grown products. To help you and your family make the most of ‘Kid’s Eat Right Month’, here are some other tips from the United State’s Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ChooseMyPlate.com.
- Add More Vegetables to Your Day
Vegetables are a critical component of a healthy diet because they provide the vitamins and minerals growing bodies need to be strong and healthy. You can increase your family’s vegetable intake by adding veggies to soups, casseroles, and other meals you already eat. Another great way to get more veggies in your day is to serve up hearty salads as the main course at dinner. For more ideas on how to increase the number of veggies that make their way onto your child’s plate, check out these Choose My Plate tips.
- Focus on Fruits
Kids love fruit which makes it easier to add it to their regular diet. Try adding some fruit to their morning meal by using it atop cereal or pancakes or stirring it into their oatmeal or yogurt. Fruit also makes a great addition to the lunchbox and can form the foundation of a delicious, yet healthy, after dinner dessert. For more ideas on how to focus on fruit, check out these Choose My Plate tips.
- Make Half Your Grains Whole
Simply choosing whole grain options at least half the time can make a big nutritional difference for your child. Swapping out processed products made with white flour for those made using whole grains may be a little tough at first, but it will go a long way toward meeting this whole grain goal. You can also offer popcorn instead of potato chips and brown rice instead of white. These simple substitutions will help you increase the whole grain intake of the whole family. For more ideas on how to make half your grains whole, check out these Choose My Plate tips.
- Be a Healthy Role Model for Children
Our children model what we do which means one of the best things we can do to make sure our children are eating right is to make sure we are eating right too. Show your child how to make healthy choices by making the same choices for yourself that you would make for them. Make physical activity a family affair and make sure you are practicing what you preach when it comes to snacking, overeating, sweets, sugary beverages, and screen time. For more ideas on how to be a healthy role model, check out these Choose My Plate tips.
And, don’t forget about Arizona Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate! Fill Your Plate, an online, searchable database of Arizona farmers and ranchers that can sell food products and certainly local Arizona food directly, serves to help form a unique relationship — a common bond — between Arizona farmers and ranchers and Arizonans. Fill Your Plate provides chefs and Arizona families with an opportunity to find and purchase locally grown food and along the way make friends with the farmers and ranchers who grow our food.
On the site, you’ll have all sorts of entertaining opportunities to engage beyond just the searchable produce-based database. You can post a question on our Farmer Forum (which is our Facebook page), search for recipes, read what local celebrities are saying about food and much more! We even provide information about how food prices are trending and nutritious tidbits that highlight Arizona fruits and vegetables and meat products. It’s a cornucopia of insights that once you’ve begun to use Fill Your Plate your mouth will water in anticipation of biting into an Arizona apple or barbequing some of Arizona’s famous and tasty beef.