March is National Nutrition Month and the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust is setting out to encourage Oklahoma residents (and everyone else in the nation) to take steps to eating healthy!

Good nutrition has a positive effect on mental and physical well-being. Healthy eating can help you live stronger and healthier lives. It can also help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, some cancers, stroke and diabetes. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt or sodium in your diet also can lower your blood pressure. Shape Your Future OK provides a wealth of great recipes and information on healthy eating.

National Nutrition Month is a great incentive for getting your entire family involved with healthy eating. As the parent, you are the most important influence on your children. Offering a variety of foods helps your kids get the nutrients they need from every food group. Cook together, eat together, talk together, and make mealtime a family time.  Start with small, easy-to-achieve changes and go from there.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Enjoy your food, but eat less
  2. Avoid oversized portions
  3. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables
  4. Drink water instead of sugary drinks
  5. Consume more low-fat (1%) and fat-free dairy products like yogurt, cheese and milk
  6. Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals—and choose the foods with lower numbers

Get Your School Involved:

Why not get your classroom involved in healthy nutrition habits? Research shows a direct relationship between the health of young people and academic achievement. Healthier students have greater ability to concentrate, lower absenteeism, better productivity, fewer discipline problems, higher test scores, and better classroom participation.

Work with your school to encourage good student nutrition and overall health with these ideas:

  1. Create a school garden
  2. Display healthy menu items in the cafeteria
  3. Include healthy options in vending machines
  4. Offer healthy foods or non-food items for fundraising events and classroom parties
For more ideas on healthy eating and nutrition tips, make sure to check out the Shape Your Future OK website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
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