A Mom Who Takes National Nutrition Month Seriously

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Katherine Brooking - Mom & Dietitian

March is National Nutrition Month and we were lucky enough to be able to interview Registered Dietitian and mom  Katherine Brooking.  Kathrine has lots of great tips and tricks to share to help you and your family eat healthy, nutritious meals. So grab a healthy snack and enjoy all the great information that Katherine has to share.

Earlier this year the new dietary guidelines were released. Can you share with us some of those findings?

One important, although not surprising, finding was that Americans are not consuming enough fruits and vegetables. It is so important to increase intake of fruits and vegetables because they are critical to lowering your risk for cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It’s easy to increase your intake starting with these two tips:

  1. When a recipe calls for vegetables, double the amount. This works especially well for soups, salads and quiches.
  2. Wash, peel and slice fruit & vegetables the night before so you have vegetables and fruit as a “grab & go” snack. You can do this when you are on the phone or watching TV.

What about the recommendations for dairy intake?

It is recommended that anyone 9 years old and older have 3 servings of fat free dairy daily. I have partnered with Yoplait because they have increased the amount of vitamin D and calcium in Yoplait Original by 50%! This is such an easy way to get calcium in your diet.

Yoplait is also doing a 1 million cup giveaway on their Facebook page. All you have to do is go to Yoplait’s Facebook page and “like” the page to get a free cup. It really tastes great and the fact that it is low fat is so important for healthy eating. (Editor’s note – we love Yoplait yogurt. It’s a routine part of our snacks here at Kolcraft.)

What about moms who have children with dairy allergies?

True milk allergies are infrequent. Lactose intolerance is more common.  There are probiotics in yogurt so those who are lactose intolerant can have yogurt. If a child truly has a dairy allergy, the good news is they often grow out of it. It’s important, however, that they still get the proper calcium and vitamin D intake. They can do this through fortified orange juice, cereal, and some soy. It’s important for parents to talk to a dietitian to make sure their child is meeting the necessary requirements.

What about moms who are dealing with picky eaters? Any advice for them?

I like Ellyn Satter’s books for getting kids to eat well. Her work is based on clinical studies and she has found that repeated exposure to foods is key. As parents, we have to put healthy food in front of our children to choose from and if a child chooses nothing than so be it. (Of course you don’t want this happening every day.) If a child refuses to eat healthy food and you end up “giving in” and feeding them sugary food, you train them that if they refuse long enough, they will get the sugary snack they want.  A little child cannot make nutrition decisions – as parents, we have to make those decisions for them and not use “bad” snacks as the go to.

A few tips for helping your family to eat healthy:

  1. Eat as a family. This helps children see that eating a meal together is a special time.
  2. Set the rules early that the family eats what is set on the table. Mom & dad are not short order cooks!
  3. Be the role model for eating healthy.
  4. Be patient. It can take 15 to 20 times of introducing a new food before your child will accept it.

Most of us would admit that we want to eat healthy and we want our families to eat healthy, but when we are busy moms sometimes it’s easier to eat convenient “junk food.” Any tips for starting to eat healthy?

  1. 1st step – Start by being aware of what you are eating. Track what you eat by keeping a food journal because awareness is key.
  2. 2nd step – Once you have a sense of your eating patterns, start with small changes. Figure out where you are off track and every week make a goal. For example if you see you are eating lots of bread, decide your goal for that week is to eat whole grains that are better for you.
  3. 3rd step – Ask yourself each week “What foods am I consuming with little nutrition? How can I reduce my intake of them?” If you make too big of a goal such as, “I will only eat fruits and vegetables starting today” you are setting yourself up for failure.

What are good resources for educating yourself on eating healthy?

  1. The government has a lot of resources on dietary guidelines, etc. and is a good place to start. They also have a good site for specific information for kids.
  2. Kid Nutrition has great info based on scientific research.
  3. Yolplait also has a great site with wonderful recipes.

Here at Kolcraft we also HIGHLY recommend Katherine’s site – Appetite for Health. There are wonderful articles, recipes, tips, etc.

Thank you Katherine for helping our families eat healthy!

What one change will you make this month to help your family eat a little more healthy?