March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to teach your children the importance of nutrition for oral health. Along with daily brushing and flossing, nutrition packs a powerful punch against tooth decay. Nutrient-rich foods promote healthy, strong teeth and gums in children. In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Eat Right website recommends making sure your child has access to the following nutrients for optimal oral health:
The USDA website above offers menus, apps, printouts and more for parents and individuals looking to establish healthy habits.
MyPlate helps you establish a healthy eating style and incorporate it throughout your lifetime. What you eat (and drink) matters. The MyPlate program recommends that you:
A concept that many children fail to understand when they are young is that food is fuel, not just fun. Yes, some healthy food snacks aren’t as exciting as others to both kids and adults alike. But eating foods that are good for us make us feel good–and that IS fun, it’s just delayed a bit. Actually, the more your practice eating healthy fruits and vegetables the more you will begin to crave them. Eventually, it won’t seem like a chore to eat healthy, you’ll get enjoyment from it.
Many children (and adults) use fuel as a comfort therapy, i.e., comfort foods. But the danger in using food this way is that it is often abused. The rate of sugar consumption in our country is off the charts, largely because when we are down or sad we crave quick, energy pick-me-ups which are typically loaded with sugar.
Healthy eating may be a habit that your household has already mastered. If so, keep up the good work! But if it isn’t, there is not better time than the present to get going on this important goal and life skill. Start with simple goals. Try eliminating one unhealthy thing and replacing it with something healthy. Maybe strive to get a fruit and vegetable serving at every meal as a starting point and work from there. Make charts and use stickers or other tracking tools to mark your progress. Put sticky notes on your fridge to help your children (and you as parents) to make good eating choices–remember, moms and dads, your children learn most from your example! A more aggressive strategy may be to sweep the pantry and the fridge for unhealthy foods and snacks and commit to buying healthy options to restock your home. (It’s okay to have some sweet splurges at home, just don’t go overboard!) Everything in moderation is the best way to go.
Parents, you are not alone in your journey to empower your children with healthy food habits and behaviors. Reach out to our team for help and guidance. We can help reinforce what you are teaching at home in our office during our exams with your children. Sometimes a child needs to hear it from someone other than a parent for it to stick!