Need ideas on how to add more fruits and vegetables to your family’s meals?
Try visiting websites such as www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org. This site offers tips on meal planning, shopping and coloring/activity pages for children.
Or if you are a traditionalist and want the feel of a book in your hand, the branches of the Hall County Library System offer a variety of cookbooks for all ages.
If you’re focused on helping your children have a healthier year, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips and suggestions such as:
* Make eating fruits and vegetables a top priority. Vegetables and fruits are low in energy density and high in nutritional value.
* Get a customized food plan for each family member at www.choosemyplate.gov. Click on “Daily Food Plans.”
* Limit sweet drinks: The average child consumes 400 calories per day from beverages. They don’t eat fewer calories at the next meal to compensate for these liquid calories.
* Have water available at all times at home and school: The AAP specifically doesn’t recommend sports drinks for children and teens. It suggests only student athletes, who exercise hard for more than an hour, drink them during and immediately after workouts.
* Limit television, computer and phone time: For children less than 2 years of age, there should be no screen time at all. After that age, less than 2 hours per day is best. This includes computer time, TV watching and phone use. Keep TVs and computers out of your child or teen’s bedroom.
* Eat breakfast daily: Breakfast raises metabolism and improves school performance. It also curbs overeating later in the day.
* Limit eating out: This will help with portion control and fat, sodium and calorie intake.
* Eat together as a family as much as possible: Typically meals made at home and served to the family are higher in nutritional value. There are also psychological benefits.
* Limit portions sizes: Don’t put serving dishes on the table so seconds are not automatic. Use smaller plates, bowls and cups.
* Consume foods rich in calcium: Low-fat or reduced fat dairy foods tend to promote a feeling of satiety. Also other calcium-rich food like soy milk, breakfast cereals fortified with calcium and greens are good for kids.
* Promote moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes per day: Include both structured activity such as sports, dance class or martial arts and unstructured play like jump rope, tag, skating, swimming or just walking or biking to school.
* Limit calorie-dense foods and select foods balanced in carbohydrates, protein and fat: Eat and offer more vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish, and low-fat or non-fat dairy foods. Limit calorie-dense foods such as candy, pizza, fried foods, desserts and salty, high-fat snacks.
Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the UGA Extension office in Hall County. Call her at 770-535-8290. Her column appears biweekly on Wednesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.