March: National Nutrition Month

By Emily Koeppel, B.A. and Lindsay Hornell, BSW, B.A.,
Graduate Research Assistants in Human Development & Family Studies,
Colorado State University

March: National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition month and with spring around the corner, it is a great time for you and your grandchildren to think about improving your health and nutrition.

Nutrition is defined as the ways in which our bodies obtain the food necessary for health and growth. As a caregiver, making sure your grandchild is receiving his or her necessary nutrients is one of the most important things you can do. A child's nutrition is directly linked to every aspect of his or her growth and development. It is a well-known fact, that drinking milk helps children's bones grow strong. But, did you know that a lack of iron (from high protein foods like meats and nuts) can lead to trouble with attention span and memory? Proper nutrition can also promote a better quality of life for your grandchildren. Children that have a better quality of life and live a healthier lifestyle are reported to partake and enjoy more activities compared to children who are not as healthy.

Not only does a nutritious diet during childhood help with growth and development, it can have long lasting effects into adulthood, as well. Registered Dietitian Laura Yudys, MS, RD, LDN, explains, "It has been well established that the way we eat as children affects our health as adults. Not only does learning healthy habits at a young age promote better habits as an adult, a healthy diet followed from childhood reduces the risk of disease development later in life."

By knowing how important it is to make sure your grandchildren are receiving their daily nutrients necessary for a healthy lifestyle, it is also important to know how to get your children to eat healthy, nutritious foods. Unfortunately, in our society, the tastiest foods are often the foods that are the worst for us. Most children would rather eat chicken nuggets and french fries instead of broccoli and grilled chicken. However, as a caregiver, you can help your grandchildren choose the healthier option more often than not. Yudys offers ways to make healthy eating in children happen. She recommends adults can serve as healthy eating role-models which teaches children that eating healthy is easy, fun and tasty. Not only can you serve as a role model, but there are ways to make eating healthy and fun. Yudys also suggests cooking meals together to promote family bonding and good lifelong habits for health. Click here for some great recipes that are fun to make and healthy for you and your grandchildren. Here, you can find healthy eating tip sheets as well as coloring and activity pages for your grandchild to fill out and color.

If you put in the effort now to make sure your grandchildren are eating healthy and living active lifestyles, you will be able to give them a better chance at living a healthy adult lifestyle as well. For more information on the importance of nutrition and other suggestions on how to bring a healthy lifestyle into your home click here.

Information provided by Children's Heart Center and Healthy Child Care.