Make the Change: Encouraging Nutrition for Families and Youth

Organic, sugar-free, fat-free, all-natural, fresh, non-GMO, low-calorie – with so many hot topic buzz words trending in the media and on food advertisements, nutrition can be difficult for anyone to navigate. It can be especially difficult for families to instill the value of nutrition in their homes to pass on to their children.

“Nutrition is the science of consuming and utilizing foods by our bodies,” said Christina Ferroli, a Purdue Extension educator in Marion County. “Nutrition is about eating what our bodies need – proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals – to grow, be healthy, be active and live a long life.”

Ferroli’s program provides educational programming for youth and adults about food safety, health, nutrition and more. Opportunities include the Nutrition Education Program and 4-H Youth Development.

Ferroli said that “youth development rests on proper nutrition where youth get the nutrients they need to grow and develop healthy minds and bodies through food. Not getting the nutrients in the amounts needed for growth and development set youth up for deficiencies.”

Carol Rice is the owner and chef at Stargazer Inc., a program that promotes nutrition and encourages healthy choices by providing culinary classes for youth. Rice’s curriculum includes “kid-friendly” recipes that help participants try healthy and tasty foods.

“In my years of teaching, I have learned youth are more apt to ‘buy into’ new things when they’re invited in the process from planning to preparing and picking new things to try,” said Rice. “Research some meals as a family, [and] pick a new [fruit or vegetable] weekly. Always make sure the recipes are youth-friendly, and try not to get to caught up in the calories and fat to where it’s no longer fun. Slowly implement healthier items to your menu and daily snacks.”

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