By: Haley Duscha, RDN, CDN
March is National Nutrition Month, and Connecticut Children’s pediatric dietitians are bringing your family the advice you need to eat well! Scroll to the bottom for more healthy eating resources.
Here, we share three mealtime habits that are key to good nutrition.
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1. Include foods from all five food groups – fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy – in everyday meal choices.
This helps your family get adequate nutrients, feel full, and maintain energy levels throughout the day.
- Fill half the plate with colorful fruits and vegetables. Consider trying a new produce option or recipe to jazz up an old favorite!
- Try new and different grains, such as switching to some whole grain products.
- Choose low-fat protein options, and don’t forget about the variety available in seafood, beans, peas, eggs, poultry and lentils. Stick to options that are baked, grilled and roasted instead of fried.
- Add a low-fat dairy source to mealtime for added calcium and vitamin D.
- Check out choosemyplate.gov for help planning meals and checking portions, including the “Start Simple with MyPlate” app.
2. Don’t forget about healthy drinks.
Getting enough to drink, especially water, is key to a balanced diet.
As much as possible:
- Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Choose zero-calorie options.
- Opt for low-fat milk (skim or 1%, after the age of 2).
3. Pay attention to your eating environment.
Healthy eating involves not only what you eat but also where, with who, and how quickly you eat it. Take the time to really focus on your meals and snacks.
- Turn off all of the screens. To prevent mindless eating, limit distractions like TV or your phone.
- Sit at a table together. Practice this with both meals and snacks! Choosing to eat at a table together can help you and your family stay connected, including taking time to talk about your day.
- Eat slowly – at least 15-20 minutes each meal. Encourage everyone in your family to take their time while chewing food and set their forks down in between bites. This will instill mindful eating habits in your child, help prevent overeating, and help your whole family enjoy their food.