March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Want to encourage a healthy weight for your whole family in order to prevent heart disease, cancer and stroke, all while having fun? Get outside and be active.
Children need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day to achieve a healthy weight and prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and stroke. This might seem like a lot of time, but it all adds up.
Being active and playing with your kids can be easy:
- Encourage children to join a sports team or try a new physical activity.
- Take a walk after a family meal.
- Instead of catching a movie or watching TV, pick an activity that requires movement such as laser tag, bowling or miniature golf.
- Give children toys that encourage physical activity such as balls, kites, hula hoops, Frisbee and jump ropes.
- Limit TV time and keep the TV out of your child's bedroom.
- Plant a garden. Kids love to water plants, and they'll get excited weeks later when they see their flowers bloom or vegetables grow.
Once you get your family moving, remember to fuel up for activities or sports. Drink plenty of water before, during and after activities. Children need to drink at least six 8-ounce cups of water per day. Add another 8 ounces for every half hour of strenuous activity. For longer activities or when children don't drink enough water, diluted 100-percent fruit juice or sports drinks can increase their fluid intake.
Breakfast is an important meal for all children, consider serving whole-grain cereals or muffins made with fruit, such as bananas, blueberries or raisins.
For a snack before or after physical activities, serve crackers and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix, containers of cut-up fruit and sliced vegetables with a low-fat dip.