Counselor’s Corner: 3 FUN Ways to Educate About Eating Right for National Nutrition Month

nnm2013logoMarch is National Nutrition Month. The purpose of National Nutrition Month is to spread awareness about making educated food decisions and creating healthy eating and physical activity habits.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in 2010 that 35.7 percent of American adults and 17 percent of American children are obese. Many health concerns can result from being overweight or obese, such as asthma, sleep apnea, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Social discrimination and stigma can lead to depression and other mental health concerns.

This year’s National Nutrition Month theme is Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day. You can spread awareness in your school and community about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity during National Nutrition Month and year round.

Here are three fun ideas to get you started.

Host a Healthy Potluck
Use the Choose My Plate website to educate your colleagues about creating a balanced meal. Provide them with the Dietary Guidelines Consumer brochure, which contains lots of information about eating right and choosing healthy foods. Post or circulate sign-up sheets for healthy dishes in each food group. On the day of the potluck, display the Choose My Plate diagram to help colleagues make informed decisions about portions of each food group.

Plant a Garden
Kids garden USDA photoIf you’re feeling more ambitious, you can start a garden at your home or school or in your community. Many lessons about nutrition and science can be taught by growing a garden. Planting is also a great way to teach positive characteristics such as responsibility.

Plant vegetables that will do well in your climate and part of the country. When you harvest your vegetables, you can make a healthy snack or meal for yourself or your classroom.

Let’s Move and Kids Gardening are great resources to get your garden growing!

Fruits and Vegetables Show and Tell
Using Choose My Plate’s Food Group information, create a master list of fruits and vegetables. Have students or colleagues sign up to research one fruit or vegetable from the list and provide the rest of the group with nutritional information and ways it can be prepared. Show and tell will provide everyone with new ideas for enjoying healthy foods. Students will also benefit from researching and public speaking.

Veggies, Wikimedia Creative CommonsYou could also do this for your own family by introducing one new fruit or vegetable to your diet each week. Include it prepared in a meal or enjoy it by itself as a healthy snack!

Schools and communities can play a huge role in educating others about healthy eating and physical activity. Here are more resources that can help:

  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics hosts the Eat Right website, which has lots of information and resources about healthy diet.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative is great for finding information and resources about nutrition and physical activity specific to children.
  • Choose My Plate has a wealth of information about portion control, healthy eating, and physical activity.

How will you celebrate National Nutrition Month in your home, school, or community?

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About Danielle R. Schultz

School Counselor blogger for Free Spirit Publishing Blog
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