Take 12 Steps for Health
WHAT'S GOING ON WITH
TAKE 12 THIS MONTH?
Step 3: Put Your Best Fork Forward
You have the tools to make healthier food choices!
Making Healthy Strides
|ON YOUR OWN||AS A FAMILY|
Start a vegetable or herb garden to help with your fresh produce supply.
Plan the week’s meals, and cook together as a family. It’s a great way to make healthful foods fun to eat.
Family meal preparation and dinner time can be great family bonding time! This can also teach healthy habits to children and show them how easy it is to make delicious meals. The following steps can help ease family meal time.
- Plan: Look at the family calendar and designate a time where everyone is available to help plan meals. This gives everyone a say in what they’d like and can help you create a meal that will satisfy everyone’s desires. Use this time to make a grocery list of all the ingredients you will need.
- Prepare: Take your kids grocery shopping with you, if it isn’t too chaotic. Involve your kids in the preparation of the meal. Younger kids are able to set the table, fold napkins, pour beverages, or helping place ingredients where they belong. Older kids can help tossing salad, washing vegetables, and mixing/stirring pots. If you have teenagers, you can assign them a night to cook for the family, with supervision of course.
- Bon Appetit: Enjoy the meal you worked hard to put together! Don’t focus on having to clear the table or wash dishes after dinner. Spend the time at the table talking about everyone’s day and relieving stress. You can also use this time to plan other meals or family time.
- Clean Up: Involve your kids in cleaning up the table. Have little ones put dishes in the sink or dishwasher and have older kids help with the cleaning assembly line. Wash, dry, put on drying rack. This will not only allow the family to spend more time together but also speed up the dishwashing process!
Source: Kid's Health, "Family Meals"
PACK A LUNCH VS. CAFETERIA FOOD
Many of us have bad memories of school lunches growing up, so we choose to send our kids to school with homemade lunches. School lunches have been in a negative light because of the thought that they have a higher fat and sodium content making them worse for our children. However, with the many regulations that have recently been implemented, school lunches provide more of certain nutrients than do packed lunches. School cafeteria lunches provided more protein, fiber, calcium, fruits, and vegetables. Home-packed lunches were found to have higher fat, sugar, and calorie content and were more likely to include sugary drinks. Have no fear, you can still pack healthy lunches for your kids with the following tips:
- Choose diverse foods: Include foods from all food groups. Choose skim dairy products like milk or yogurt, include fruits and vegetables. The more colors the fruits and vegetables are, the more nutrients your child is receiving.
- Portion control: Children don’t need the portions that adults do. Scale back on the amounts you include in your child’s lunch. Myplate.gov has great tips on how to scale back portions if you are unsure how to do so.
- Plan ahead: Sit down with your kids to plan out the week’s lunches. This way they can have a say in what they are getting, but also give them healthy food choices. Instead of giving them the option of cookies or chips as a snack, offer them carrots or cucumbers and let them choose. This teaches kids how to make healthy food choices.
- Steer clear of sugary drinks: Instead of juice pouches or soda, include water or skim milk with your child’s lunch. Sugar-filled drinks do not satisfy thirst as much as water and do not hydrate our bodies as well. Start your kids off young with adequate water intake that they can carry with them throughout their lives.
Source: Cooking Light, "Brown Bag Vs. School Lunch: Which is Healthier?"
COOKING WITH THE FAMILY
Laughter, fun times, and memories being made can all come from cooking together as a family. Children learn to make healthy food choices and are more likely to eat foods they have helped prepare. There are also many benefits to cooking together as a family, here are a few:
- It reduces the time kids spend in front of the TV or doing other sedentary activities
- Kids aren’t eating junk food
- Kids are encouraged to try new foods
- New family traditions can be made as well as memories
- Gives kids ownership of the food they are eating
- Makes children more likely to make healthy food choices in the future
Start slow and give your kids a responsibility in preparing the family dinner so they have a purpose and role. Enjoy the time you spend with your family and get some good laughs out of it!
Source: WebMd, "Cooking with Your Children"
Americans are eating, on average, 300 more calories per day. Portions have greatly increased in the past few decades. Restaurants also serve much greater portions than is recommended. Below are the serving sizes of some popular foods that we usually get too much of:
- Meats: 3 oz. = a deck of cards
- Seafood: 3oz. = a checkbook
- Nuts: ¼ cup = a golf ball
- Fruit: ½ cup = a light bulb, ¼ cup = a golf ball, 1 cup = a baseball
- Banana: 8 inches = the length of a standard pencil
- Fats & Oils: 1 tbsp. = 1 poker chip,
- Bread: 1 slice = 1 cassette,
- Sweet Treats: 1 slice of cake = 1 deck of cards, 1 oz. of chocolate = 1 package of dental floss, ½ cup of ice cream = 1 light bulb, 1 cookie = 2 poker chips
Practice portion control at home. Measure out cereal for breakfast and don’t just pour till the bowl is filled. Also, using smaller plates can help with portion control because you fill your plate with smaller quantities. At first it will seem tough and you may feel hungry, but in the end you are doing yourself and your family a favor!
Source: WebMD, "Portion Size Plate"
Get Info for the 50+ Crowd at the Park Authority’s 50+ Web Portal
The Fairfax County Park Authority has launched a website specifically for residents age 50 or older. The 50+ Engage-Connect-Play portal provides one-stop shopping for information on Fitness & Wellness, Arts & Learning, Gardening & Adventure, Giving Back, and more that’s geared toward Baby Boomers and active seniors.
Learn More at Fairfax County Park Authority - Fifty Plus.
The Take 12 program is free and anyone can participate at any time. This program is designed to:
- Help you accomplish healthy goals each month, with tips to keep you going for the duration.
- Give you access to information - free workshops are available each month on different healthy topics and bulletin boards loaded with information are posted at all the RECenters.
- Provide an opportunity for you to experience fitness and wellness programs offered across Fairfax County.
- Empower you to make important lifestyle changes... you can do it!
- Plus, sign-up to receive the monthly e-newsletter, packed with recipes and healthy tips, upcoming events, and opportunities to achieve your Take 12 goals!