March is National Nutrition Month
Good nutrition should be a part of an everyday plan for a healthier lifestyle. In March, Dallas ISD’s Food and Child Nutrition Services is highlighting the importance of making informed food choices and developing good eating and physical activity habits as part of National Nutrition Month.
The good thing is that being healthier doesn’t require huge changes. Below are small changes that could make a big impact not only on our health but on our world.
- Eat more plant-based foods: Choosing more plant-based protein foods such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and tofu instead of animal-based protein foods is one way to reduce your carbon footprint and eat healthier. You can participate in “Meatless Mondays”.
- Buy locally and in season: Saves fossil fuels used for long-distance transport and food is likely fresher and may taste better, cost less, and retain more nutrients. In addition, it supports local farmers.
- Reduce packaging: Buy foods in bulk to reduce the amount of plastic, paper, metal, and energy that goes into manufacturing the packaging. If possible, choose containers that can be reused and recycle materials such as glass, metal, paper, and plastic.
- Choose reusable bags: Opt for reusable grocery bags, such as totes or used paper and plastic bags from previous visits. This can lessen the impact of plastic bags that often end up in landfills and pollute fresh bodies of water and oceans.
- Save water: Water could become our scarcest resource. When using a dishwasher, don’t rinse the dishes beforehand, and run the dishwasher only when it’s full. Don’t use running water to defrost frozen food. Plan ahead instead and thaw it in advance in the refrigerator or microwave.
- Decrease amounts of garbage: Avoid using disposable plates, cups, etc. Try composting some of the food waste. Fruit and vegetable scraps can be used to nourish your garden.
Healthy eating is important at every age. This can be done by offering your family a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy or fortified alternatives. When shopping for groceries, choose foods and beverages that are full of nutrients and limited in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.
Children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly all have different requirements for the number of calories and protein; however, the overall goal remains the same—to eat balanced and nourishing meals that include foods from each food group.
Below are some tips to increase healthy eating for the whole family.
- Plan your meals: To reduce any stress at mealtimes, plan out meals before the week starts. Include easy and quick dishes and even leftovers for those busy days.
- Serve a variety: Include choices from each food group for a balanced meal. This includes fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy in meals and snacks throughout the week.
- Cook together: With adult supervision, children can get involved in cooking and putting together a meal. You can assign tasks to children to help, while also teaching food safety.
- Connect at mealtimes: Sit down together for a meal and “unplug” from technology such as phones, laptops, television, headphones, etc. This encourages more interaction and focuses on each other. It also increases mindful eating habits such as eating slower and chewing more, listening to our satiety cues, and engaging all senses.