March is National Nutrition Month!

Father, son, daughter cooking together


Remember the “food pyramid”? The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), which created the food pyramid and updates it every few years, did away with it this year! Instead, they recommend a few simple ways to help keep your family eating healthy:

Add more fruits, vegetables, and color to your plate. To get the vitamins and minerals your body needs each day, make sure half of your plate contains fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies provide different nutrients based on their color, so be sure to add color and variety to your plate—red, green, yellow, orange, blue, and brown. See this fruit and vegetable color chart to get some colorful ideas!

Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk. Milk is a great source of calcium, but many milk products are high in saturated fat. Next time you shop for yogurt, milk, or cheese, choose the fat-free or low-fat (1%) versions.

Eat a variety of proteins. Protein helps children grow, but some foods that are high in protein are also high in fat and cholesterol. Proteins like chicken, beans, eggs, and seafood are often healthy choices. Try black bean tacos instead of beef tacos; grill fish instead of steak; make a tuna salad sandwich instead of using cold cuts.

Compare the sodium in foods like soup, frozen meals, and breads. Many Americans consume well over the recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams of salt per day, so keep an eye on your daily intake. Children shouldn’t consume more than 1,500 milligrams per day. Nutrition labels on foods tell you the sodium content. One way to limit your salt is to choose fresh foods over canned and frozen foods. Season with herbs and spices instead of salt, and try this trick: put only the pepper on the table during meals!

Make sure at least half of the grains you eat are whole grains. One easy rule is to avoid “white foods”: white bread, bagels, and pasta. Look for bread, cereals, and pasta that say “whole wheat” or “whole grain.” They’re higher in fiber – which everyone needs – and also better for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Avoid sugary drinks.  Sodas and juice are usually loaded with sugar. If you’re looking for something refreshing besides tap water, try a cranberry spritzer or seltzer water. If you or your children drink juice, choose 100% juice and drink no more than 6 oz each day.

Check out more daily tips and tasty National Nutrition Month recipes including: spicy black beans, salmon burgers, Greek chick-pea salad, and popcorn delight!

Which tips will you try?

What tips of your own would you share with other families?

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