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This USAF FitFamily offers sound tips on how to keep your children eating healthy

If you’ve ever had difficulty getting your kids to eat fruits and vegetables or try new “healthy” foods, you aren’t alone! According to the government’s new nutrition icon, children’s fruit and vegetable consumption should be half of their dietary intake (the icon is an image of a dinner plate divided into sections – with fruits and vegetables taking up more than half the plate). Based on a study in 2009 by researchers at Ohio State University, only 22% of children ages 2 to 5 meet government recommendations for vegetables. Unfortunately, it only gets worse as children get older: just 16% of children ages 6 to 11 meet the government’s guidelines and only 11% of those ages 12 to 18. Our FitFamily of the Month, The Weiss Family will share their tips on getting kids to eat healthier.

Meet the Weiss’s - May’s FitFamily of the month!

Lt Col Geoffrey Weiss and wife Karen are stationed at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma where Col Weiss serves in the 964 Airborne Air Control Squadron. Daughter Alison is 18 and currently attends USAFA, son Scott, 17 is a high school junior and son Brian, 15 is a freshman. Here’s a pleasant surprise – these teenagers are in the 11% who meet the government’s recommended nutritional guidelines! How do they do it? It takes effort and planning.

Making eating healthy fun, easy and accessible
The favorite Weiss family snack is fruit. “We eat a lot of bananas, apples, grapes, oranges and other in-season fruits. Fruit is always on the counter where they’re easy to see and easy to reach,” says Geoff. Other snack foods they enjoy include a variety of nuts (peanuts, pistachios and almonds), Jolly Time healthy pop 94% fat free kettle corn and smoothies. Karen makes a fun smoothie snack with fruit and non-fat yogurt – she’ll add some protein powder after workout for muscle building. Here’s a quick and easy smoothie creation:

•    Blend fat-free or low-fat yogurt with fruit pieces and crushed ice. Use fresh, frozen, canned, and even overripe fruits. Try bananas, berries, peaches, and/or pineapple. If you freeze the fruit first, you can even skip the ice!

Challenged by busy schedules, the Weiss children are encouraged to prepare snack- packs before school. If healthy foods are readily available, everyone is less tempted by fast foods. “We will splurge on rare occasions with a meal out that includes hamburgers, pizza or ice cream. By not forbidding these, we feel we have reduced the mystical allure,” Geoff said.

Set a good example
Karen and Geoff prefer healthy foods, so setting a positive example is easy. When fast foods can’t be avoided or are a preference, the Weiss’s choose places like Subway where healthy choices are available. Karen tries to keep the kids interested through variety and understands that just because mom and dad like certain foods, doesn’t mean their offspring will. Kid’s tastes change dramatically as they mature, so staying true to a plan that introduces healthy foods, encouraging fitness and setting a positive example for them will result in healthy, fit adults.

Hunger is a great opportunity to introduce new foods
If they’re hungry, they’ll eat. Geoff and Karen use “hunger” as the perfect time to present good tasting and good for them foods like sweet potatoes, green beans and broccoli. Another suggestion to “get them while they’re hungry” is before dinner, serve an appetizer of colorful vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers and red bell peppers, along with a hummus or low-fat salad dressing. Find a healthy role model. The adult Weiss’s advocate finding examples the kids can relate to who endorse healthy eating (maybe a friend or popular icon that your child recognizes) as positive motivators.

Keep them motivated by using USAF
The Weiss family is proud to be part of the FitFamily team as they focus on staying fit and healthy for their sports as well as their overall attitude and outlook on life. And like most teenagers, the kids also like to be fit so that dating is just a little bit easier!


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