Tips, Tools and Activities
Make March about mindfulness! Mindfulness is all about being in the moment—to be aware of our thoughts and actions without judgment or criticism. This month celebrate being more aware of what your family eats. This is known as mindful eating. Make a conscious effort to pay attention to how your family feels when meals are eaten together. Discuss the variety of tastes, textures and aromas coming from your plate. What colors stand out? What does a food taste like? What does it feel like? How does the food smell? Talk about what is happening inside your body when you consume certain foods. Experiencing food with all of your senses can bring an exciting element to mealtimes! Mindful eating can help families truly enjoy the foods they eat, building and strengthening a healthier relationship with food. How we eat is just as important as what we eat.
When families practice healthy eating habits, they may pay more attention to the ingredients being purchased at the grocery store. One of the most common ingredients on food labels—from bread and soup to frozen pizzas and snack items—is sodium. Too much sodium can harm our bodies, increasing blood pressure and damaging our arteries. As a family, focus on reducing sodium intake this month and introduce new flavors using herbs and spices. Preparing meals at home as a family is one way to reduce sodium in your meals because you decide how much salt is added to a food. Use half or skip the salt altogether when cooking pasta, rice and vegetables. Read the nutrition fact labels on food products to identify the sodium content of a specific food. Sodium is often hidden in frozen and ready-to-eat meals, bread, soup, deli meat, cheese and canned vegetables. Choose foods lower in sodium this month.
Looking for a fun way to engage youth in the kitchen? Check out our Easy Apple Recipes for Young Chefs and see how kids in Detroit make apple nachos after school!
March is the month when our clocks "spring forward," and we lose one hour of sleep to daylight savings. Take time this month to discuss the sleep habits of everyone in the home. Is anyone going to be earlier? Rising at the same time most days? Developing a wind-down routine? Turning off the screens earlier in the evening? As a family discuss how changes in your sleep impact your energy levels the next day or your ability to concentrate better at school, home, work or during play. This month everyone aim to go to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual or designate the last hour of the evening as screen-free so you can all enjoy family time.
Q: Can I trust the claims on food packages that tell my family we are making healthier choices?
A: Packaging proclaims that certain foods are "low-sodium," "low-fat," "natural," etc. The front of a package often markets several "health claims" and encourage you to buy a certain brand or product over another. The phrases are often misleading (i.e. gluten-free, sugar-free, fat-free, low sodium, organic, good source of calcium, high source of protein) and do not necessarily indicate that the food is healthier. Always look at ingredient lists and nutrition fact labels for more information. Ingredients are listed in order of how much is in a product; therefore, the first ingredient tells you what is the main ingredient in the product.