Tis’ the Holiday Season, which for most families equates to a season of not so nutritious eating, hectic schedules, and stress. All of these things can leave us feeling run-down and it’s certainly an inconvenient time for mommies and kiddos to be sidelined by a cold or even worse, the flu. The good news?? With a little bit of planning and attention, we can fuel our families bodies to stay healthy and full of energy. The key to looking and feeling our best this holiday season . . . fruits and vegetables!
But how much produce should we actually be eating?? Here’s some help: by now you’ve probably seen that recently the USDA replaced the old “Food Pyramid” with a new visual reference called “My Plate” – FINALLY!! Even to me, a Dietitian, the food pyramid always seemed rather confusing. If most adults had difficulty understanding it, how in the world could it be used to explain healthy eating to our little ones who were still trying to distinguish the color purple from the color blue?? The new dinner plate design is easy to understand and puts much more emphasis on fruits and vegetables . The divided plate demonstrates that at least half of our plate should be filled with these nutrition powerhouses at every meal. It really is a creative and simple way to help families achieve a balanced and healthy diet. Yay!
That being said, as a mom of twin 2 ½ year old girls, I know that it can be very hard if not impossible to get our families to eat the recommended 7-13 servings of fruits and veggies everyday. And, getting in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables can certainly be a bigger challenge. As a busy stay at home/work from home mom, I’d love to spend countless hours searching pinterest or reading Rachael Ray’s website to come up with new and creative recipes that would expand my family’s taste buds. But, and you’ll be shocked I’m sure, the fact of the matter is that I don’t have the time. It seems that there are barely enough hours in the day to get the laundry done, gently remove peanut butter from Emma’s hair, and find the Cinderella figurine who has conveniently gone missing. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that the majority of the time my family tends to eat the same handful of fruits and veggies every week. And, of course there are also those days when I have all of the right intentions but inevitably I watch time, money, and effort go right down the drain when dinner becomes an impromptu game of “who can throw their peas and noodles farther” courtesy of my twins, Emma and Tessa. Awesome! Now, I’ve gotta also find time to mop the floor. (At least they were exercising their motor skills (: )
So, I know with the holiday season upon us, it gets even more difficult to make sure our family is getting their best nutrition. We are eating on the run and are more likely to be filling up on lots of un-healthy goodies at different events & parties. So, I thought it would be the perfect time to provide some fun ways to remind the kiddos (AND husbands (: ) of the importance of the fruits and veggies on their plate. Here are some of my favorite tools:
1. I’ve included a printable place mat that is a cute cartoon depiction of the “my plate” picture (thank you Super Health Kids). I printed this out and laminated it (yes, for some reason I actually have a laminator) or you can just as easily put it in one of those clear sleeve document protectors. (That way it easy to clean and you are not constantly reprinting the place mat). The place mat give kids a great visual at every meal which reminds them to fill half their plate with fruits and veggies. (Great to throw in your bag when going out to eat at a restaurant as well. The place mat is a nice encouragement for the little ones to choose the fruit cup and green beans instead of fries)
2. I’ve also included a My Plate coloring page. Remind your kids to use as many colors as possible when drawing in the fruits/veggies section – we should aim to eat the rainbow (:
3. Finally, there is a cute weekly worksheet: “The Balanced Meals Goal Chart”(from Nourish Interactive) in which family members earn a sticker every time they eat food from one of the food groups. Why not have a family challenge and see who can get the highest number of stickers in the fruit and vegetable squares each day or who has the most stickers in those squares at the end of the week?
Hope these tips help keep your family healthy and happy for the holidays! If you’d like to learn more about the convenient and easy way that I make sure my family gets the whole food nutrition from 17 different fruits and veggies everyday, please check out my website or facebook page! Happy Holidays!