June 2020: Nutrition for Families

Healthy lifestyles—eating, exercising, sleeping, and socializing—play an important role in building resilience. Our next two Family Wellness Series events will focus on healthy eating. Join us on Saturday, May 30th at 10 AM for a cooking demonstration, and Saturday, June 20th at 10 AM for a presentation from Petaluma Bounty. Both events will be on Facebook Live on our Petaluma Health Center Facebook page.

What we eat can make an impact on our mental health, even in kids! Studies show that a typical Western diet—high in sweets, red meat, and processed foods—resulted in increased depression and aggressive behaviors in teens. Those who experience more trauma in childhood (adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs) can have a higher risk of depression and other mental health conditions. Therefore, parents play an important role in building healthy eating habits in children from an early age to support mental health. This can be an opportunity for the whole family to discover some new favorites foods and recipes! Cooking and eating together is a great way to get young chefs interested in healthy foods and is a great opportunity for family bonding. Here are some tips for families:

  • Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains: Most people don’t get nearly enough fruits and vegetables, yet these are filled nutrients to support healthy bodies. Check out MyPlate.gov for more information on nutrition in all age groups. The website also has some fun games for older kids!
  • Visit a farm or farmer’s market as a family. It’s important for kids to see where food comes from. When kids are involved in choosing and preparing healthy foods, they’re more likely to eat them. Petaluma Bounty has some great programs to get families involved in growing healthy food.
  • Eat all the colors of the rainbow! No, we’re not talking about Skittles…The brightest colored fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, nutrients that can protect our bodies from damage.
  • Keep offering new foods. It’s normal for kids to be picky eaters, but make sure you continue to offer them healthy foods multiple times. Even if they’re not a fan of a new vegetable at first, you may find a new way to prepare it that gets them interested. And remember—it’s important for your kids to see you eating those healthy fruits and veggies on a regular basis!
  • Avoid processed foods. Store-bought foods often come with too much sugar, salt, and fat. Skip the packaged snacks and try offering fruits, carrots and celery with peanut butter, or low-fat cheese and yogurt.

(Adapted from Stress Health blog: https://www.stresshealth.org/the-happiness-diet-food-for-a-happy-resilient-child/)

Finding affordable healthy foods can be a challenge. Our community has a lot of great resources to help:

  • Anyone in need of food can find it from our local food bank: https://getfood.refb.org
  • CalFresh is a nutrition assistance program to help families buy healthy foods. To sign up, visit this website, or call the Food Connections Office at (707-523-7903).
  • Families with young children may also qualify for WIC. Call 707-656-6590 for the Sonoma County WIC office to see if you qualify.
  • Check out this video for a budget-friendly guide to shopping for healthy foods, and this guide on plant-based eating! Another helpful video here.