The Mid North Coast Local Health District is encouraging the community to focus on eating more vegetables and fruit - not just during National Nutrition Week, but all year round.
MNCLHD Health Promotion Officer and Dietitian Richard Ball said eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk for cardiovascular diseases, stomach cancer and colorectal cancer.
“Eating a variety of vegetables and fruit also ensures appropriate intake of most vitamins, minerals and dietary fibres,” he said.
Mr Ball said establishing sound eating habits from an early age is very important as it gives children the best chance of leading a healthy life and maintaining a healthy weight.
“Early years are a time when food habits are being developed, many of which will be retained throughout life.
“Healthy food choices and being more active will benefit the whole family, so try to get everyone involved. Children will find it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight if the whole family makes healthy lifestyle changes,” Mr Ball said.
To enjoy a healthier lifestyle, Mr Ball suggests, eating a healthy breakfast every day, snacking on a variety of fruits and vegetables, encourage water and low-fat milk and avoid sugary soft drinks, cordial and fruit juice and encourage your child to eat more vegetables – if your child doesn’t like vegetables, try being creative with how you use vegetables such as finely grating carrot and zucchini into lasagne or spaghetti sauce.
Mr Ball said it was also important to offer children a slightly smaller serving at dinnertime.
“Some children will clear their plate no matter how big the serving size. Serving a little less can make a significant difference over time,” said.
“And try to have takeaway foods less often as they are higher in salt and fat than home-cooked meals.”
There are a few tricks involved too: so consider planning ahead by cooking a dish the night before so that the meal is ready when you come home from work or cook large quantities and freeze meals to use later.
National Nutrition Week is from October 16 to 22.
Nutrition Australia has organised a challenge for you or a team to Try For 5 serves of vegetables every day during the week.
The challenge is open to community groups, friends, workmates and involves recording your daily vegetable intake to earn team points which can be tracked on a live scoreboard.
The Try For 5 Team Game is just $15 per person to enter and every sign up helps raise money to support Nutrition Australia’s work to promote healthy eating in early childhood, schools and local communities. You can register and pay for a whole team, or invite people to join individually.
The Try For 5 Personal Challenge is free.
Take the pledge to eat more veg! Join the Try For 5 Challenge today – go to www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/national-nutrition-week/try-5-challenge