March is National Nutrition Month! As a mama to a toddler that has extremely picky preferences, nutrition is always at the forefront of my mind when it comes to meals. I’m constantly thinking of ways to sneak more vegetables into my son’s diet. Little things changing give me hope, like many other mamas.
This year, the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition (ADN) is focusing on “Celebrating a World of Flavors” and encouraging us all to explore not only the flavors we already know but flavors that may be new to us as well. As a group, the ADN wants to meet us right where we are and give us the tools to incorporate balanced meals into our daily lives. We all have different nutritional needs and we all have lifestyles that vary vastly. What works for one family doesn’t mean it is one size fits all and finding small things we can implement may make a larger impact than we realize.
There are a lot of great resources on what it means to be well balanced nutritionally on the National Nutrition Month website and there is also a great resource on how we can incorporate this month’s goal into our daily lives. Here are some of my favorite suggestions!
1. Try a new fruit or vegetable each week. I love this! Not only is this an easy way to incorporate more nutrient-dense foods into our homes but it’s also a way to stretch our budgets. It can be something as easy as trying a new variety of peppers or exploring different types of apples!
2. Build Your Plate! So many things factor into how our pantries and fridges look-budgets, accessibility, time. The ADN has an awesome guideline for what a great, nutrient-dense plate could look like and it is fully customizable to your lifestyle. This is nothing wrong with serving your kids Kraft macaroni and cheese! Chicken nuggets? Awesome! Are there special foods from your culture that are constant in your home? It all fits! Food isn’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because, at the end of the day, food is fuel.
3. Include your kids in the kitchen, age appropriately! Ollie loves helping me make food and having him not only help with the grocery shopping (usually ending in some sort of goldfish or gummy bear magically being in the cart) but the actual preparation of meals is multifaceted in benefits. He gets to see new colors and textures while learning about what makes up his favorite meals and snacks. We talk about eating the rainbow and how Mommy loves vegetables. As a result, my picky eater licked a sweet potato, which is huge for him. It doesn’t happen overnight and it can happen when you least expect it.
Food doesn’t have to be scary and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. But, if you do find yourself or your family having issues, please reach out to your doctor or a Registered Dietician. They’re the experts and have seen it all.
What are some ways you can incorporate new flavors into your meals?