About 30% of South Dakotans are overweight or obese, including nearly 15% of children. Childhood obesity has become a major health concern, causing health problems in children that previously weren’t seen until adulthood such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Parents are key to helping overcome this national epidemic, and having healthy eating and nutrition policies in place to support families in making good decisions for their family is crucial to turning the tide on this epidemic.
The American Heart Association has developed healthy tips, recipes and guides to make it even easier to prepare more meals at home. And what better time for your family to start making healthier food choices than March, which happens to be National Nutrition Month?
Here are some tips from the American Heart Association to help you and your family start eating healthier:
- Enjoy meals together. When everyone sits down together to eat, there’s less chance of children eating the wrong foods or snacking too much.
- Get kids involved in cooking and planning meals. Everyone develops good eating habits together and the quality time with the family will be an added bonus.
- Eating healthier at home starts with the ingredients you use. Many favorite recipes can be made healthier by substituting ingredients.
- When you use oils for cooking, baking or in dressings or spreads, choose healthier oils — which include canola, corn, olive, safflower, sesame, soybean and sunflower oils.
- Limit added sugars in your family’s diet. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugars for most of us, so reduce or cut out soda, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks as well as enhanced waters, sweetened teas and sugary coffee drinks.
- Try to reduce the amount of sodium you eat. If using packaged foods, compare food labels, and choose the product with the least amount of sodium. Use herbs and spices to add flavor when cooking, instead of salt.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits, whether fresh, frozen, dried or canned. Add them to dishes your family already loves and use them as healthier sides, snacks and desserts. If you choose canned, watch for added sodium and sugars.
For more nutrition tips, healthy recipes and resources to help your family get healthier, please visit heart.org/healthyhome.