Improving Child Nutrition While Being Supermarket Savvy
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we don’t consume enough vegetables, fruits, high fiber whole grains, low fat milk and milk products, and fish. We get too much salt/sodium, added sugars, solid fats, and refined grains. By switching from meals created with heavily processed products outside the home to meals prepared in the home from minimally processed food, we can provide healthier meals for our families.
All of us make choices about our food. We decide when to eat; what to eat; who to eat with; and how much to eat. Our food choice behaviors are influenced by our biology, experiences and behavior. Biological influences can include taste, smell, hunger or satiety (a feeling of fullness), and sensory-specific satiety (variety of taste). In helping your family make good choices about the food you consume and the change to eating less processed food, it is important to know how to prepare food, and practice food safety skills.
For tips on low-cost food choices that follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and are relatively easy to prepare, you visit the Recipe Finder website through SNAP-Ed. People can build a cookbook through the recipe finder. It can be found at http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/. Additional recipe ideas can be found at UNL’s Recipe Central.
When talking to your children about food, think about which message speaks more to them. “Vegetables help prevent heart disease?” or “Carrots are crunchy, sweet and refreshing.” Motivate your family through enjoyable family meals together, and the pleasure and flavor of food. Through repeated positive food experiences such as gardening, shopping for food, comparing Nutrition Facts, cooking, and family or group meals, children will learn to become good eaters.
Never underestimate the powerful role you as an adult have in being a role model for your children. Many times they look to you for an example of healthy eating and behaviors. As you sit down to enjoy food, be sure to use positive messages about your food such as: Doesn’t it look good? Have you tried it yet? How colorful! It’s delicious! If you enjoy a variety of healthy foods, you can improve nutrition, and help your family benefit from the nutritional benefits of food.
UNL Extension Educator