March is National Nutrition Month ®, and Health Net, Inc. (NYSE: HNT) is seeking to increase awareness – particularly among parents – regarding the importance of providing children with nutrient-rich foods and beverages.
“Nutrients – including protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals – are high on the list of the building blocks for proper growth,” says Jonathan Scheff, M.D., chief medical officer for Health Net, Inc. “Because children’s bodies and minds are still developing, it’s especially critical that they consistently consume high-quality nutrients. That way they’ll have less room for – and may be less tempted by – nutrient-poor choices such as candy and soda. Plus, if children start out on a healthy path early in life, they’re more likely to become nutrition-conscious adults.”
It was with this goal in mind, Scheff noted, that Health Net created its Healthy Kids program, through which parents can access tools and resources to help family members embrace healthy-eating habits and regular exercise.
Health Net members also can enroll in a Healthy Living program that includes personalized meal plans, healthy recipes and strategies to make smart choices when dining out.Another program, Fit Families for Life, is for Health Net Medi-Cal members and offers home-based and telephonic coaching programs, a workbook, cookbook and a DVD featuring a host of nutrition tips along with low-impact exercises. Nutrient-Smart Tips The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – which has sponsored National Nutrition Month for 40 years – offers the following practical tips to add nutrient-rich foods and beverages to your daily diet:
- Make creamier oatmeal by adding fat-free milk instead of water. For added nutrients, mix in raisins, dried cranberries, cherries or blueberries.
- Prepare sandwiches on whole-grain bread, such as whole wheat or whole rye. To the lean lunch meat of your choice, add slices of avocado, tomato or cucumber.
- Opt for whole-wheat macaroni and cheese, as this is a great way to enjoy a whole-grain food with a serving of dairy.
- Look for nutrient-rich restaurant choices such as entrée salads with grilled seafood and low-calorie dressing, baked potatoes topped with salsa, grilled vegetables, reduced-fat cheese and yogurt parfaits made with fresh strawberries and blueberries.
- Choose nutrient-rich beverages, such as low-fat or fat-free milk (either plain or flavored) or 100-percent fruit juice.
- Top foods with chopped nuts or reduced-fat shredded sharp cheese to get crunch, flavor and nutrients from the first bite.
- Spend a few minutes to cut and bag vegetables so they are in easy reach of every family member. Ready-to-eat favorites include: red, green or yellow peppers; broccoli or cauliflower flowerets; carrots; celery sticks; cucumbers; snap peas and whole radishes. Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch-box additions, or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner.
- Serve meals that pack multiple nutrient-rich foods into one dish, like hearty, broth-based soups that are full of colorful vegetables, beans and lean meat. Make chili with a dollop of low-fat yogurt, and accompany with whole-grain breads or rolls.
- Enjoy a tropical treat by blending mango, plain low-fat milk, ice and a splash of pineapple juice. For another dessert option, stir chocolate syrup into a cup of coffee-flavored yogurt, freeze and enjoy.