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2017 National Nutrition Month


In support of the National Nutrition Month™ campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, DoDEA focuses attention on helping military children and their families understand the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The 2017 theme - Put Your Best Fork Forward - acts as a reminder that each bite counts. Making just small shifts in our food choices, can add up over time.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest starting with small changes in order to make healthier lasting changes you can enjoy. This year's theme for National Nutrition Month inspires us to start with small changes in our eating habits - one forkful at a time. So whether you are planning meals to prepare at home or making selections when eating out, Put Your Best Fork Forward to help find your healthy eating style.

Below are some fun facts, tips and tools to help make National Nutrition Month engaging and fun for children.


  • The food and beverages we consume should not only taste great, but also reflect our family traditions. Trying new recipes and food from other cultures can also help children learn more about the world.
  • It usually takes time for kids to accept new foods.
    • It may take over ten introductions to a food before it's accepted by a child.
    • Parents often give up after three times!
  • For those picky eaters, the best thing a parent can do is to continue to introduce the refused food, eat the new food with them, and not turn the experience into a pressure filled negative one.
  • Parents are the most powerful influence on a child's eating habits.
    • It starts in the womb! The growing fetus is exposed to food flavors the mother is eating.
    • It continues through breastfeeding! Flavors are passed through breast milk.
    • Flavor acceptance continues through food typically eaten by the family.
    • If you want you kids to eat certain foods, role model it! Eat with them at the table without the television.
    • Flavor acceptance expands as children try foods that are in the neighborhood around them. In the military, that can change dramatically!
    • There are many foods rich in nutrients, so don't get hung up if your child refuses one particular food.
      • Once cup of corn or peas has a similar amount of potassium as an orange, but tomato sauce and legumes (dried peas and beans) have nearly triple the amount.
      • Sports drinks have one tenth the amount of potassium as the corn, peas and oranges.
    • Nutrient needs are met over days, not at a single meal.
    • Get to know your beans.
      • Beans such as black, pinto, kidney, white, great northern and others are rich in fiber and potassium, 2 underconsumed nutrients in America's diet.
      • They are inexpensive and a good source of protein.
      • When introducing beans, try them mixed in soups or casseroles or pureed and topped on corn chips or as part of layered dip
    • Calcium, the mineral important for strong bones and teeth, is underconsumed across all age groups, especially pre-teen and teen females.
      • If you pack a lunch for your child, instruct them to buy milk at the cafeteria. For kids allergic to milk and other dairy products, serve 100% juice or water as a beverage.
      • Foods high in calcium include:
        • Almonds, peanuts, broccoli, greens (turnip, mustard, collard and kale), legumes or fortified orange juice or other calcium fortified products. Broccoli and greens are low in oxalic acid, something that prevents calcium absorption; thus calcium in these foods is easily absorbed. High fiber foods such as legumes and nuts have phytates, which also limit calcium absorption but far less than oxalic acid.
      • Sports drinks are not necessary for kids, even athletic ones; these drinks are acidic and harm tooth enamel. The minerals they provide are much greater in food. As an example, an 8 fluid ounce portion of a typical sports drink provides 31 mg of potassium, but half that volume of tomato sauce provides 250 mg.

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Did you know that when families eat together (at the same table without the television on in the background or other distractions), important learning and critical support takes place?

With longer conversations, kids and teens are introduced to more rare words and more complex ideas, which help their language skills.

More frequent family meals are associated with improved self-esteem; less depression and suicide ideation; and less tobacco, alcohol and drug use in teens, especially females.


Parents, students and teachers can track their personal fruit and vegetable intake against the goals for their age group. Refer to DoDEA National Nutrition Month Presentation.

  • As a guide and for ideas of new fruits and vegetables to try. Make it fun! Challenge parents, classmates or another class to a fruit and vegetable challenge using the tools in the slide deck.
  • Teachers may use the USDA's Serving Up MyPlate: A Yummy Curriculum for elementary school grades for ideas for lessons and activities that meet college and career readiness standards for English and Language Arts, Math, and National Academy of Science standards for Science and the Health standards from the American Cancer Society. The specific standards met are located in the beginning of each curriculum document.
  • Check out MyPlate Games and Activities.