National Nutrition Month: 5 Tips For Improving Your Diet
Attention one and all—March is National Nutrition Month. It’s the best excuse to improve your eating habits by taking up some new food traditions in your household, from simple, healthy breakfasts to getting your kids excited about fruits and vegetables.
Here are five tips for celebrating National Nutrition Month the right way.
One of the toughest games a parent has to play is the “just try it” game—especially when it comes to vegetables. But there are several tactics you can try to get your kids excited about eating well. Try making a game out of it, or find online some printable activities that correlate!
Starting the Day Right
One of the biggest culprits of poor eating habits is grabbing something unhealthy in a hurry while heading out the door (or skipping breakfast all together). The best way to combat this is to realize that your morning routine probably won’t change—but the food you grab can. Consider prepping food in the evening when you’re in less of a hurry, such as hard-boiling eggs or cutting up fruit. And not all foods that are quick are bad—many types of instant oatmeal, for example, can pack good fiber and nutrition in one bowl and are simple to make in a pinch and fruits like grapes or bananas require little to no prep work!
Cutting Back on Salt
High blood pressure is common in North America. One huge contributing factor to this disease is that we’re eating too much salt. The best way to save yourself from hypertension down the road is to be conscious of what you’re grabbing in the grocery aisle. Sure, you could grab for that pre-packaged soup or pizza or you could grab a handful of fresh ingredients to make a larger batch (at a lower cost in the long run) and have frozen, premade meals for the rest of the week. It’s about putting a little more time in now to reap the benefits (and the time savings) later. So the next time you’re tempted to grab processed foods, pick fresh instead and your body will thank you.
Treating Salad Like Salad
It’s a mainstay of every fad diet—just eat more salad. But salads can quickly turn unhealthy if you’re not opting for the right toppings. A good rule of thumb is avoid dressings as best you can and add flavor through other, fresh toppings. (And if you must have a dressing, go for the vinegar-based, low-salt, low-sugar options or make your own.) Try to go for lean meats, add some nuts, or chop up a hard-boiled egg for protein. Cranberries or other fruits can also add a lot of flavor to a salad.
Reducing Your Sugar Intake
We all love it. It tastes good, and we can’t get enough of it. But many pre-packaged foods come loaded with sugar those foods don’t even need. Take spaghetti sauce, for example—premade, jarred sauce often comes with a lot of added sugar—and you’d be surprised how much unnecessary sugar you’re getting from healthy-looking juice. Too much sugar greatly increases your risk for diabetes, whether you’re an adult or a child. Check the nutrition label for high-sugar foods. Avoid foods with added sugar, versus natural sugar (like the ones found in fresh fruit). Look for ingredients such as “corn syrup,” “fructose,” “sucrose” or “granulated sugar” and avoid eating them on a regular basis.
7 Spring Break Tips To Keep Kids Active
Get the kids off the couch and computer this spring break with fun, healthy activities.
From the beginning of the year, kids start looking forward to their spring break. It’s a time to relax from the workload of school, have fun and enjoy a little freedom.
That said, it’s still recommended children get 60 minutes of exercise or activity every day! While many kids see spring break as a time to “veg out” on the couch, plan ahead and make sure their spring break is not only full of fun but also of activity. Here are seven fun ways to keep your kids active over spring break.
- Find an Adventure Sport — As a Family
Think outside of the box for this one and find a sport or activity near your home you haven’t tried yet. Going to a rock climbing gym is a fantastic option. Many cities have gyms you can try, and even have options for small children.
Rock climbing is a great cardiovascular activity and helps to build strength and muscle endurance, too. Other options include kayaking, zip lining and so much more. The idea behind this style of exercise is that your kids are having so much fun they won’t realize they’re working out, too! So the more adventure the better.
- Go On a Scavenger Hunt
This one takes a little bit more effort, but the amount of fun to be had makes it worth it. You can make clues leading around your house, your neighborhood or a park. Have your children invite friends over and make it a team activity — complete with prizes!
- Create an Obstacle Course
By using everyday household items, you can create a fun obstacle course for your kids to run through. This is a great alternative to playing outside if the weather isn’t cooperating. Jump though hoops, crawl under broomsticks, carry canned goods during a shuttle run — let your creative juices flow and see how a transformed space can inspire some family fun.
- Go for a Hike
Hiking is a fun family-friendly activity that also works up quite the sweat! Do a quick search to see what trails are nearby. Many hiking websites will even rate them by length and difficulty, so you can find one that meets the criteria perfect for your family. Take it a step further and pack a picnic lunch to enjoy during your journey.
- Plant a Garden
Spring is the perfect time to start a garden. Preparing the ground for planting takes a lot of hard work, from digging holes, weeding flowerbeds and more. While working on the garden, you can discuss the importance of healthy eating with your children and let them choose some of their favorite fruits and vegetables to plant.
- Go to the Zoo
What kid doesn’t love going to the zoo? Spending a day looking at the animals is a lot of fun but also requires lots of walking. Your kids won’t even realize you are sneaking more activity into their day.
- Take Daily Family Walks
Spending a few minutes before or after dinner going on a family walk is not only an excellent opportunity for family bonding but also a great source of exercise. Embrace the spring weather and get out into the fresh air together.
Making spring break more active isn’t as hard as you’d think. Most importantly, staying active benefits the whole family — and it’s a win-win because you get to spend time with your kids.
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup orzo
- 4 cups spinach, thinly sliced
- 10 medium radishes, quartered
- 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1/2 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup pitted oil-cured olives, chopped
- 1/2 cup packed fresh mint, chopped
- 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Preheat the broiler. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and shake dry.
- Meanwhile, toss the spinach, radishes, cucumber, onion, olives, mint, parsley and 1/3 cup each lemon juice and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the orzo and season with salt and pepper.
- Toss the shrimp with the remaining 2 tablespoons each lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl. Arrange on a foil-lined broiler pan and broil until slightly pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and broil until just cooked through, 2 to 3 more minutes.
- Divide the salad among plates. Top with the shrimp, sprinkle with the feta and season with pepper.