National Nutrition Month (R)

helping prepare tacos for dinner.
helping prepare tacos for dinner.

{Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietician, but I play one on TV. No, not really. But I do play one at my house, does that count?}

There are a lot of reasons to celebrate March in our house: our oldest has a birthday, it brings March Madness (basketball tournament time), and it holds the promise of an impending spring (and the inch of new snow covering the ground bodes well for the month “leaving like a lamb”). But March has also been designated National Nutrition Month (registered (R)) by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. National Nutrition Month is a campaign whose purpose is to “focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.” (It’s also an opportunity for this organization to promote its members – registered dieticians – but I can get on board with that.)

This year’s theme is “Enjoy the taste of eating right”. People consistently rank “taste” as the number one factor in determining their food choices. Many other emotional and social influences are usually wrapped up in these decisions as well, and ultimately influence not only what someone chooses to eat, but their beliefs about whether or not they like it. And liking it will lead to eating more of it.

Not long ago, Smart Eating for Kids posted a strategy for teaching kids to like a food – or at the very least try it, since we know that it can take many times trying a food before a kid actually likes it (this number is higher, the older they are, by the way) – by teaching them to talk about the food. Laura writes “It’s okay if my kids don’t like everything I give them, but I want them to be able to articulate it in a way that helps both them and me learn something about their likes and dislikes.”

“YES!” I thought after reading that. “Exactly.”

So, I’ve decided to use National Nutrition Month (R) as an opportunity to initiate conversations around what my kids like and don’t like about the food I’m serving them. I am fortunate to have adventurous eaters, but we still deal with our fair share of “That’s yucky.” comments, especially at dinner. I love the idea of giving my kids other ways they can describe a food, and working with them to think about how we might change the recipe next time. I can also use these conversations as an opportunity to explain why I chose the dish, and describe what I like and don’t like about it. This routine will have the added benefit of making the kids feel like active participants in deciding what our family eats. I think there is only good that can come from this and that we might all enjoy the taste of eating right a little more fully. 

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