March is National Nutrition month, but many parents struggle with getting their children to eat healthy and nutritious foods.
Parents can get help for free in Hartford. Wheeler Family Health and Wellness Center is offering nutrition information and healthy toddler cooking classes as a part of their Free Toddler Nutrition Program. The classes are offered on the first two Tuesdays of every month, at either 10 a.m. or 5 p.m.
At Wheeler Family Health and Wellness Center, Flavia Rey De Castro is hoping for some help when it comes to feeding her picky 2-year-old daughter Juliana.
“The main source of my mom guilt comes from eating and nutrition for her,” said Rey De Castro.
She is ready to say goodbye to that mom guilt and learn how to get Juliana to eat healthier. She turned to dietitian and nutritionist Jessica Masterson, who is running the Free Toddler Nutrition Program at Wheeler.
“Setting a good example. So as a parent you want to show children that eating healthy is fun and good, show them that you like healthy foods. Another thing is variety. Offer your children a variety of fruits and vegetables - whole grains, lean protein. And my big one is always be careful of sweetened beverages and packaged foods,” said Masterson.
This week was all about information and next week is a cooking class. Anyone interested in attending the classes can just sign up by calling 860-224-6340 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Masterson said walk-ins are also welcome. Professionals will watch the participant’s kids during the classes and provide the produce. They urge parents to be willing to put in the time.
“It takes about up to ten times for a child to be introduced to a new food for the child to learn to accept it,” said Masterson.
The main takeaways are to set a good example for kids by having parents eat healthy foods. Parents should offer a variety of fruits and vegetables, and give children a choice so they can’t say no.
“If you take them to the grocery store let them pick out the vegetable or fruit for the day,” said Masterson.
If parents feel they can’t get to a grocery store, or shopping just takes up too much time, then nutritionists said food delivery is an option.
“Have food, remember where it came from. So as long as those meals are less processed, not packaged things. Again, if you are getting a mail delivery and it is whole lean meat and whole grains and fruits and vegetables, then it's a great resource and makes it easier,” said Masterson.
Also pick a day to prep all of your food and get kids helping in the kitchen. The hope is we can all feel good, because of the good food our kids are actually eating.
“I feel relieved, I feel happy. Very accomplished,” said Rey De Castro.
The next toddler cooking class is being held at the Wheeler Family Health and Wellness Center on Tuesday, March 19 at 5 p.m. More information can be found on their website here.