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Parents should encourage healthy eating habits for children for National Nutrition Month

Parents are the most important role models for their children.

For National Nutrition Month, celebrated each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages parents to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” by modeling healthful eating habits—one forkful at a time.

“Cooking from scratch will yield health benefits for you and your family,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Jennifer Bruning. “Serve regular, balanced meals and snacks with a variety of nutrient-rich foods, and enjoy family dinners each night or as often as possible.”

Nutrient-dense options—foods packed with important nutrients—are naturally lean or low in solid fats and, in turn, have little or no added solid fats, sugars or sodium.

Bruning suggests small changes families can make to their eating habits:

▪ Start the family’s day with a nutritious breakfast;

▪ During each meal, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables;

▪ Make at least half of the grains you eat whole grains;

▪ Talk positively about eating healthy foods. Your kids are listening; and

▪ Work with a registered dietitian nutritionist to create a plan that works best for you and your family.

Making small changes in the kitchen is just one part of becoming healthier over time. Improving overall well-being requires a lifelong commitment to healthful lifestyle behaviors, including daily physical activity. Parents can provide opportunities and encourage their children to spend time each day playing fun, physical activities.

“The first thing parents can do is set a good example by being physically active,” said Bruning. “An easy way is by planning an activity hour twice a week where parents and their kids can play a sport or physically active game together.”

As part of NNM, the Academy’s website includes articles, recipes, videos and educational resources to spread the message of good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Consumers can also follow National Nutrition Month on Facebook and Twitter (#NationalNutritionMonth).

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