Want to improve your family's health? A great first step is to include 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Another is to include at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, such as walking. These simple changes are easier than you think and help to improve your entire family's health.
Plan and make meals together
Encourage your family to help make the grocery list and prepare dinner together. That way, everyone can select his or her favorite fruit and vegetables. By involving your kids, they'll be more likely to eat healthy foods, and they'll learn the basics of eating right. Start a little healthy competition in your family by tracking everyone's fruit and vegetable consumption as well as physical activity for a week. Use the tracking chart for every member of your family. Enter the number of daily vegetable and fruit servings and activity minutes each day. Total them up at the end of the week and see who ate the most and also included physical activity. Remember, 5 servings is the minimum, so strive for 5 to 9 colorful fruits and vegetables!
Get Physically Active!
Regular physical activity is essential for your health. To decrease your risk of several chronic diseases, you should strive for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activities on 5 or more days of the week or vigorous-intensity physical activity 3 or more days of the week for 20 minutes or more per session. While any physical activity is better than none, additional health benefits can be gained by engaging in more physical activity.
Try these tips and see how easy it is to eat 5 to 9 a day!
- Breakfast: Add your favorite fruit to cereal or yogurt. Drink a glass of 100% juice.
- Lunch: Pack a pita full of chopped veggies, have a salad, vegetable soup or fill a baggie with cut fruits and veggies to munch on.
- Snacks: Fill ice cube trays with 100% juice (put in toothpicks) and enjoy the mini-popsicles in no time.
- Dinner: Have two vegetables and a salad.
What's A Serving?
The 5 A Day for Better Health Program defines one serving as
- 3/4 cup or 6 oz., 100% fruit or vegetable juice
- cup raw, cooked, canned, or frozen fruit or vegetables
- cup cooked, canned, or frozen peas or beans
- 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
- 1 medium size fruit
- 1/4 cup dried fruit
- Health benefits are gained by eating 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day and regular physical activity.
- Eating 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day may reduce your risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases. Substitute fruits and vegetables for high calorie, low nutrient foods.
- Regular physical activity helps decrease your risk for several chronic diseases, and also helps control your weight and reduce stress.
5 A Day the Oxford Way
Oxford Elementary in Oxford, Mississippi, has plenty of students smiling from ear to ear about the 5 A Day program. Oxford Elementary is one of 25 schools in Mississippi selected for the fruit and vegetable pilot program. This project is federally funded through the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase the availability, knowledge and consumption of fruits and vegetables among school children. Mississippi joins Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and the Zuni Tribe in New Mexico in its participation in the Fruit and vegetable pilot program. The program began in 2002 providing $6 million to 107 elementary and secondary schools relating to fruits and vegetables.
The program's kick off illustrates how federal and state agencies, schools, and industry can work together to make a positive difference in children's lives.* More than 100 students participated in the kick off event that showcased a variety of fruits and vegetables and a hands on tasting for everyone to enjoy.
As this project continues students at Oxford Elementary will have the opportunity to eat free fresh fruits and vegetables at snack time. They will also receive practical nutrition education to increase their exposure and awareness to healthy eating behaviors. Curriculum materials are provided by CDC, USDA, and the National 5 A Day partnership. Oxford Elementary was selected for the pilot because of its innovative strategies to incorporate fruits and vegetables during snack times along with nutrition education.
*Supporting organizations included: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Produce for Better Health Foundation, 5 A Day, Mississippi Department of Health and Education, Food Service Management Institute, and Mississippi State University Cooperative Extension Service.