Havre, Montana – Regardless of what we have been taught about eating, seen in the media, or recommended by the latest diet craze; the foods we enjoy are the ones we eat most. That is why the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have annotated this year’s National Nutrition Month theme as “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”.
Every year in March, the Academy encourages Americans to reassess their eating habits and widen their taste experiences in order to eat in a healthier fashion. A balance between eating what is nutritious and what is tasty can be difficult; but you may find that the two choices are not mutually exclusive.
Dr. Carol Kerr, a Family Medicine provider at Northern Montana Hospital, explains why this is important for our families. “Enjoying healthy foods sets the stage for a lifetime of good nutrition for our children. In my home, we strive to eat a variety of foods, with the emphasis on trying new things. My twin boys may not initially like the foods I am introducing, but over time they are finding their own favorites among the selection.”
But can nutritious food be tasty? Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain items and lean proteins can be prepared in such a way that taste and nutrition can share the same foods. Oftentimes when preparing vegetables, cooking them correctly, or opting to eat them raw can be the best way to serve them. Most Americans at one time or another have been served reheated, canned spinach. Most of us turned up our noses at the gray-green lump on our dinner plates. But today, fresh spinach can be found on most salad bars, and is used as a fresh vegetable option in pasta dishes, egg dishes and sandwiches.
Exposure to new food items can be difficult also. Options like co-op produce clubs, well-stocked produce sections, farmer’s markets and health-food stores provide us with access to non-traditional fruits and vegetables. Growing your own produce can make the project more personal for your family. Sometimes allowing the child to choose the vegetable or fruit enhances the learning experience for them.
“Research shows that family meals promote healthier eating – more fruits, vegetables and fiber; less fried food; and often fewer calories,” adds Dr. Kerr. “This year’s National Nutrition Month theme, ‘Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,’ reminds families to return to the basics of healthful eating by returning to the family dining table. And family meals do much more than put healthy food on the table. Beyond preparing the meal itself, we sometimes forget that mealtimes offer time to talk, listen and build family relationships. And it’s a chance for parents to be good role models for healthful eating,”
No matter your children’s ages, parents and caretakers can find countless resources and a wide range of information about eating right – all backed by the unequalled expertise of nutrition professionals like registered dietitian nutritionists – at Kids Eat Right (www.KidsEatRight.org), a joint initiative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Academy’s Foundation.