How You Can Help Make Meals Simpler for Families

Jean Ragalie-Carr, RDN, President of the National Dairy Council, Dietary Guidelines Alliance Member, @JeanRagalieRD

What does back-to-school time mean for most families? Jam-packed schedules and trying to fit everything in, including eating nutritionally balanced meals and snacks; oh, and making time for regular physical activity! So, wouldn’t it be nice to make planning meals and fitting in activity easier?  Our role as health and wellness professionals is to help the public do just that. Thanks to the new It’s All About You Toolkit, we can help reach busy families during their busiest season with some practical solutions.

The toolkit is a resource you can share with your clients, patients and the public. It was developed by The Dietary Guidelines Alliance, of which National Dairy Council is a member. The toolkit is based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate.

Here’s a quick preview of great family tips from It’s All About You:

  • Reward kids with love and attention, not food.
  • Allow no more than 2 hours of TV and recreational computer screen time each day, whether at home or outside the home.
  • Lead by example. Be a role model for your kids by eating vegetables, fruits, low-fat/fat-free dairy, and whole grains with meals or as snacks.
  • Go grocery shopping with your kids! Make it a teachable moment about food and nutrition. Cooking together can also be fun.

From navigating the Nutrition Facts label to ideas for meals (like a veggie pizza with lower-fat/reduced-fat cheese or grilled fish tacos!), there are lots of useful hints in the toolkit to help people make small steps that add up to big change.

You can also find tips about balancing foods and exercise, being mindful of calories and portions, and eating more mindfully by s putting your fork down between bites. Two of my personal favorite tips to help slow down eating: Take a sip of low-fat milk between bites and have conversations with your family during your meal.

Good nutrition and regular physical activity are so important to the health and wellness of kids and families. This is especially true for growing schoolchildren who need a nutritious breakfast to kick off their day of learning and a nutrient-rich lunch to keep the momentum going.  Improved nutrition and regular physical activity have a major impact on academic achievement. You can read more of my thoughts on it here.

In the meantime, check out the It’s All About You Toolkit and pass it along to make back-to-school time a little more manageable.

You can follow National Dairy Council and me on Twitter via @JeanRagalieRD, @NtlDairyCouncil and @FUTP60.