Healthy Eating Tips For New Hampshire Families

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Busy parents may be frustrated by the flood of changing nutrition advice in popular media and magazines as they try to make sensible dietary decisions for their families. Among the top concerns in many families is that children are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, along with picky eaters and eating too much junk food.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Nutrition and Health Promotion Section offers these tips:

* Make mealtime family time. Try to have at least one meal a day together. Eating meals as a family may improve children's food habits, as they tend to eat more fruits, vegetables and dairy foods at meals shared with their parents.

* Get the entire family involved in meal planning and preparation. A kitchen can be a learning laboratory. Give children simple tasks to help with family food shopping, preparation and cleanup. Children are more likely to eat foods that they have helped to prepare.

* Be a good role model. Parents often tell their children to eat healthy but do not follow the advice for themselves. Make sure parents set a good example for the family. Healthy eating is a lifestyle, and not a fad. It needs to be a family affair that begins at an early age.

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* Try something new. Set a goal to include one new food or recipe each week, and thus discover new favorites to incorporate into family menus. Try a new or exotic fruit like mangoes or tangelos. To make fruit easier to eat, serve it in bite-sized pieces with some low-fat yogurt for dipping.

* Freshness and quality is key. Opt for fresh, quality products when choosing foods. Fresher foods provide higher amounts of essential nutrients and taste better when served at their peak. Buy fruits and vegetables in season to stretch your food dollar.

* Stash healthy snacks. Keep healthy, nutritious snacks in key places at all times—your purse, the car, your desk drawer. As you run out the door, grab a few healthy snacks – crackers and peanut butter, small boxes of cereal, fresh fruit, pretzels, or plain popcorn. This prevents temptation to eat unhealthy options and you will have portable nutrition for your children.

* Think creatively to adapt to your family's schedule. Try changing the time of your meals so you can have at least four family meals per week. Accommodate a busy schedule by working in time for a meal. For example, have a tailgate picnic before or after a sports game or practice.

* Face dining out challenges head-on. Parents may feel restaurants do not have enough variety for their entire family. Choose restaurants that allow you to mix and match food options that give you the control to create a balanced meal for your family.

* Be informed when dining out. Visit restaurant websites or call ahead to find out information about their menu. Some websites provide nutrition breakdowns for menu items. Use this information to help you select a restaurant and to plan meals ahead of time.

* Get help from the Women Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition program. WIC is a free nutrition program for families with pregnant women, new mothers and children up to the age of 5 years old. Income guidelines apply, so call 1-800-WIC-4321 to see if you are eligible, and then ask WIC for recipes and menu ideas for your family.

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