Summer nutrition: Healthy eating a Family affair

By Hannah M. O'Steen, Lyster Army Health Clinic Registered Dietetic TechnicianJuly 7, 2014

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FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 7, 2014) -- School is out for the summer and that means more meals are being made at home. This summer, try new recipes with your children and even have them help in the kitchen to encourage healthy eating choices.

Summertime is full of all types of yummy foods. Some of those foods found during the summer are healthy, but some of them are a nutrition disaster. Remember, all foods can fit into a healthy diet in moderation.

Children have very observant eyes and watch everything going on around them, which is why it is very important to make sure you are the best role model with your eating habits. Healthy eating is a family affair.

Good nutrition starts with breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but is often the hardest meal to get in because of competing priorities. Twelve to 34 percent of children and adolescents regularly miss their morning breakfast. Eating breakfast has been shown to give more energy, give the body's metabolism a boost and improve concentration.

Throughout the rest of the day, meals and snacks should have variety, balance and moderation. Variety means a variety of colors, flavors and textures. Food should not be boring. Moderation means don't overdo it. It's important to find the right balance between the calories you eat and the calories your body burns.

Exercise and movement is a key proponent to a healthy plan. We must keep our bodies moving and practice healthy eating habits. Exercise doesn't have to be formal and strict. Exercise could be anything from bicycling around the neighborhood to playing Frisbee with the dog. Exercise can also be walking the dogs, swimming, or playing a Wii Fit. The goal should be to get out and move for 30 minutes, five days a week. Exercising as a Family is a great way to get your children involved.

So how do we get children to make health eating choices? Some great ways to get children to eat healthier foods is to get them active in the decisions, active in the shopping, active in preparation and cooking, and let them take the recognition.

Growing your own fruits and vegetables in a Family garden is also a great way to keep children involved in the process, and helps them see where their food comes from. Most children will not turn down food they grew, picked out, prepped, cooked and served.

For more information on kids nutrition and recipes, please visit:

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