How to Celebrate National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month is upon us. While the name is self-explanatory, allow us to provide a little more insight from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

“National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, we invite everyone to focus on the importance of making informed food choices, developing sound eating and physical activity habits.”

This year the theme is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite”, and through each week of the month households are encouraged to take steps towards healthier living through better nutrition. These weekly steps include the following:

  • Week One – Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day
  • Week Two: Plan your meals each week
  • Week Three: Learn skills to create tasty meals
  • Week Four: Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Regardless of when you find this article, your family can tackle all of the steps at your convenience. However, there’s a lot more you can do to recognize this important occasion, and with spring break occurring at the same time your kids actually have the time to get involved. Below are some ideas that your household can enjoy together.

3 Ways to Recognize National Nutrition Month with Your Kids This Spring Break of 2020

Plant an Immune System Boosting Medicinal Garden

Enhancing the immune systems of everyone in your household has never been more important. For that reason the Week One recommendation of eating a variety of nutritious foods is one that should be maintained through all days of the year. While your local farmers market, U-pick community garden/farm, and natural food retailer offers a bounty of healthy options, you can provide your kids with a deeper understanding of how natural foods work with our bodies. How? By planting a medicinal garden in your own backyard or on the patio.

Choose practical vegetables that are known to enhance immunity, with a focus on your Vitamin A-B-C-D-Es. At the minimum look to crops that are rich in Vitamin C and zinc. Good garden vegetables (and a fruit) that are rich in Vitamin C include red bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, and strawberries. For zinc, your kids will love the idea of planting two top immunity boosters – sunflowers and pumpkins. The seeds of each are rich in zinc and offer your kids something to get excited about in the summer and autumn seasons to come. For good measure, plant some herbs in your home garden too, with echinacea, elderberry, andrographis and astragalus topping the list of immune system supporters. View more on helpful herbs you can grow with your kids at home.

Teach Your Kids to Prepare Nutritious Meals

Many Canadian children are over-reliant on their parents to prepare nutritious meals. This can be a problem for latchkey kids that have no one home after school or other extended periods of time. By arming them with skills in the kitchen, they can learn to safely cook (as age-appropriate) and prepare health plates. You’d be surprised at how excited children get over this opportunity, especially when you consider the phenomenon of cooking shows on the Food Network, some of which actually feature kids (MasterChef Jr, Chopped Jr, etc.). 

If you fancy yourself as a bit of an expert in the kitchen you can set aside some time this month to teach them. If not, use the free time you have this spring break (and National Nutrition Month) to take a cooking class together. We provide further details on this topic in our recent Family Learning Activity guide.

Fuel > Go Outside an Play > and Refuel 

Don’t forget that National Nutrition Month’s mission statement asks that you develop sound physical activity habits too. For that reason you should absolutely head outside and PLAY with your kids, partaking a variety of fitness-enhancing sports and activities. March marks the perfect time to assemble the household and go for an outdoor jog and bike ride. There are also many activity/fitness parks that have popped up in Canadian cities over the past ten years. These outdoor fitness zones include Olympic-styled tracks, bodyweight/calisthenics bars and equipment, basketball/tennis courts, parkour “courses”, and more. But there’s a way to tie-in the “Eat Right, Bite by Bite” concept here too. 

Nutrition and physical activity go hand in hand, and what your kids eat before, during, and after activities/sports significantly impacts their health and wellness. For starters, teach them about which foods will give them the energy, strength, and endurance to excel in any given physical activity. Consume these foods together before heading out for your household activities. In addition, prepare food together to bring along with you to enjoy during breaks and after your activities, foods that will refuel your bodies and provide nutrients that are essential to post-exercise recovery. View this guide from health.org for further insight. 

Happy National Nutrition Month!