Author: Carolyn Thiede, RD, LD
March is National Nutrition Month® – you’re welcome to join us in celebrating this annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This month-long campaign is meant to educate people on the critical role of registered dietitians, encourage healthy eating and physical activity habits, and inform the public about various nutrition-related topics such as food safety, malnutrition, and food science and technology.
Here at Texas Children’s, our dietitians work tirelessly to provide patients with high-quality, science-based medical nutrition therapy and education, which helps to improve their nutrition status and supports overall medical outcomes across the hospital.
We gathered a handful of helpful tips for families pursuing a healthier diet. We encourage you to give one (or more) a try!
- Plan out your meals ahead of time – you’re less likely to feel forced to eat out when you’re in a bind since you already have something prepared. This ensures a more nutritious meal and saves money, too! – Elizabeth, NICU Dietitian
- When you’re buying packaged foods, always look at the ingredients label. Try to buy products with the least number of ingredients and stick to those you understand. – Lisa, Pediatric Nutrition Dietitian
- Encourage healthy snacking habits by letting your kids choose between a few nutritious options, such as fruit dipped in peanut butter or a granola bar. They’ll feel good about making a decision, and you’ll know they’re eating something healthy either way. Serving the snack in individual portions and discouraging snacking in front of the TV are two additional ways to ensure appropriate snacking habits at home. – Marisa, Renal Dietitian
- Staying hydrated is very important for overall health. Encourage your family members to drink mostly water and consider any other beverage an occasional treat! – Libby, Pediatric Nutrition Dietitian
- If you have picky eaters at home, the single best piece of advice I can give is to just keep offering. It might feel like an exhausting, never-ending battle, but repeated exposure to the foods your kids are refusing to try (or as I like to say, “learning to like”) will eventually encourage them to try that new food. – Amanda, Inpatient Pediatric Dietitian
- I find that washing, cutting up and preparing fruits and placing them in individual baggies in the refrigerator makes me much more likely to snack on them when I’m hungry. Since I already put in the work, there’s no excuse for grabbing junk food instead. – Heather, Nutrition and GI Dietitian
- To increase your family’s water consumption, offer flavored plain or sparkling water and serve it up in a fun cup. This always encourages more water intake throughout the day! – Brittany, Bone Marrow Transplant Dietitian
- Wash fresh spinach and kale and keep them in the freezer. Then, you can easily grab a bag and add it to a fruit smoothie or quickly sauté for a meal. You can also blend these greens and hide them in soup or tomato sauce for kids who resist eating their greens separately. – Christine, Bariatric and Allergy & Immunology Dietitian
- There are many benefits associated with getting your kids involved in the kitchen at a young age. When kids participate in meal preparation, they not only learn how to cook their own food (an essential life skill) but also strengthen their fine motor coordination alongside math and reading skills. Kids who help with cooking are also more likely to try new foods and enjoy fruits and vegetables. – Cari, Pulmonary Dietitian
- I like the idea of trying different flavored popcorn made at home to increase dietary fiber and whole grain intake. To flavor 10 cups (1/2 cup kernels) of plain home-popped popcorn, try the following recipes:
Sweet & Spicy: Combine 1 teaspoon cinnamon + ½ teaspoon paprika + ¼ teaspoon cayenne + 1 tablespoon olive oil, then toss with popcorn
Rosemary, Thyme Cheese: Combine 1 teaspoon dried rosemary + 1 teaspoon dried thyme + ½ cup nutritional yeast mixed with melted Smart Balance, then toss with popcorn
Citrus Spice: Combine 1 teaspoon lime zest, ½ teaspoon chili powder + 1 tablespoon melted Smart Balance, then toss with popcorn
– Lauren, Allergy & Immunology and Keto Dietitian