Nutrition & Health Tips

Nutritious food and regular activity are key to making your family healthy and happy. Following healthy lifestyles doesn’t have to be boring, expensive, or time consuming. Small steps and changes can make a big difference in the health of you and your children. 

Food & Nutrition

Healthy food helps kids grow strong, assists with brain development, and can help reduce the risk for many diseases. It is not always easy for busy parents to provide healthy food, but simple changes in your family’s diet can make a big impact.

The MyPlate program helps families understand what their nutrition needs are and provides practical tips to meet them. 

Download MyPlate SimpleStart. Click here for Comience de una forma sencilla con MiPlato.

For more in-depth information, check out these resources:

Knowing how to meet the nutrition needs of your kids need at different ages can be confusing. MyPlate also has information about the nutritional needs of children at every stage of life

Additionally, Maryland WIC has created a series of guides to help you understand what your kids need from birth to 5. There is a guide for each six-month period until age 5. Visit the Maryland WIC Nutrition page to get information in English and Spanish. 

Be Active!

Exercise is vital to helping children be healthy – it helps to build healthy bones, joints, and muscles. It is also important for maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding the health risks that come with obesity, like increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. 

Children who get regular activity are not just healthier, but they learn better. Regular physical activity helps kids focus, remember more of what they learn, and do better on tests. As an added bonus, exercise helps to reduce anxiety and depression, and gives kids a healthy outlet for their energy.

Kids need 60 minutes of activity every day – but it doesn’t need to be all at once and it doesn’t have to be formal exercise.

Here are tips on getting kids to the 60-minute mark every day.

  • Physical education class and recess time (as long as they are actively using the playground equipment) count! Understand how much activity time your child gets at school.
  • Go to the playground. Most communities have several playground options, all of which are free. Using the equipment can be great aerobic exercise and build muscle.
  • Take a family walk before or after dinner. 
  • Have a family dance party. It’s one of the most fun ways to get everyone moving.
  • Encourage your children to do active things with their friends, like playing outside and riding bikes.  
  • Sign your child up for an afterschool or recreation sports league. Your county’s Department of Parks and Recreation offers scholarships to help make their programs accessible to everyone. Call them directly to ask about reduced fees.
  • Chores count too! Activities like walking the dog, cleaning their room, vacuuming, and raking the leaves provide physical activity time and help you out!
  • Look for free activities. Your county’s Recreation and Parks Department and Office of Tourism have event calendars that list many free, family friendly events and activities. These events almost always include some kind of physical activity, even if it is just walking. 
  • Limit screen time to make room for healthy activity.

More Resources:

Tips for Healthier Eating

Getting kids to eat healthy can be a challenge. Like with most other things, small actions and consistency are key to helping your child develop healthy food habits. 

Here are our top 5 tips to get kids to eat healthier:

  • Give your children (healthy) choices. Provide a couple of healthy options and let them pick which they want to eat and how much. Because you control what the options are, you can be sure your child is eating healthy, but they start to feel empowered in making their own healthy food choices. Don’t make your child “clean their plate.” By letting them stop when they are full, they are learning to listen to their body and avoid overeating. 
  • Be a role model. Your children are learning from you all the time and will mirror your behavior. Try to improve your own relationship with food. Avoid modeling food as a source of comfort or stress relief.
  • Be careful of drink calories. Soda and sweetened drinks, including many fruit juices, contain a surprisingly large amount of sugar and calories. You want your child’s daily calories to be focused on foods that help their mind and body be strong, not empty calories with no nutritional value.
  • Remember – you are in charge. You control what foods you buy and bring into the house, and what foods you child is exposed to. Start young – kids who learn early to eat healthy foods are likely to do so for the rest of their lives. Expose them to lots of different kinds of healthy foods.
  • Don’t give food as a reward or equate food with love. You want to avoid your child forming emotional connections with food, including seeing it as a form of comfort, distraction, or as a way of dealing with their feelings. Instead, give praise, hugs, attention, and your time.

WIC Recipes Kids Will Love

Families are more likely to follow a healthy diet when the food is delicious and affordable. Your WIC benefits provide you with many healthy foods that can be turned into a variety of tasty meals. 

Here are our favorite resources for simple, healthy recipes:

  • MyPlate Recipes: You can filter recipes by cost and other helpful categories. It even includes the ability to filter by cooking equipment, which helps you find convenient options like microwaveable, slow cooker, and no cooking required meals. 
  • Wisconsin WIC Cookbook: This has recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, as well as vegetarian options. 
  • Child Nutrition Recipe Box: These recipes for family childcare centers also work great for home. Each recipe makes 6 servings, so there is enough to feed your whole family. You can filter by rating and by categories like main dishes, side dishes, and more. 
  • WIC Meals of the Month – Fiber: These meals featuring WIC foods can help boost your family’s diet of fiber-rich foods. There are a variety of easy sweet or savory options. 
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