When it comes to food and nutrition, even the most knowledgeable parents can use help making sure their children are eating healthy meals. Each March, the American Dietetic Association celebrates National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme, “Eat Right with Color,” encourages parents to take time to make sure their children are getting all of the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. The good news is that shopping, cooking and eating healthfully have just gotten easier with assistance from www.KidsEatRight.org, a new website from ADA and its Foundation.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently reported that children, teens and adults have diets deficient in dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium and potassium and the Kids Eat Right campaign calls for increased attention to the alarming nutrient deficiencies in children’s diets.

“Weight is not the only measure of good nutrition and health. Any child — whether they are of normal weight, overweight or obese — can be undernourished,” said registered dietitian Dr. Katie Brown, national education director for the American Dietetic Association Foundation.

“Quality nutrition requires a total diet approach that goes beyond calorie counting alone, to focus on including those nutrients critical for a child’s healthy growth and development,” Brown said. “This year’s National Nutrition Month theme is a great reminder for parents to focus on that total diet approach by including a variety of foods and colors in every meal, every day.”

Brown offers the following guidance for helping your kids “Eat Right with Color.”

Give kids whole-grain cereals for breakfast, kid-friendly “white” whole-wheat bread for sandwiches, crunchy whole-grain crackers for snacks and wholegrain pastas for dinner.

Eat more fruits and vegetables at every meal. At breakfast, enjoy fresh or frozen berries on cereal, slices of melon or a glass of 100 percent orange juice; at lunch, serve baby carrots or sliced apples; for dinner, put brightly colored vegetables at the center of every plate.

Most young people in America are not getting enough calcium or potassium. Fortunately, it’s easy to consume the three daily dairy servings children and teens need. Try an 8-ounce glass of low-fat milk with breakfast, lunch and dinner; yogurt parfaits for breakfast or an after-school snack; or string cheese for an on-the-go energy snack.

Getting enough protein at every meal and snack helps kids feel satisfied after eating. Start their day with egg or bean burritos. For snacks, provide peanut butter or sliced deli meat.

Designed around a SHOP, COOK and EAT theme, the Kids Eat Right website provides parents with practical tips, articles, videos and recipes from registered dietitians to help families shop smart, cook healthy and eat right. Created specifically for National Nutrition Month, the site will also feature interactive games for kids including:

Sudoku: Tackle these popular puzzles using food rather than numbers.

Word Search: Find the words that represent the bold and vibrant colors associated with eating right!

Rate Your Plate Quiz: Find out how you rate when it comes to making daily meal choices.

Whether speaking with a registered dietitian about essential nutrients and healthier cooking, or visiting www.KidsEatRight.org for tips and recipes, Kids Eat Right provides families with knowledge as well as ideas and tools to transform their eating behaviors.

Initiated in 1973 as a weeklong event, “National Nutrition Week” became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition. Additionally, to commemorate the dedication of RDs as advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world, the second Wednesday of March has been designated “Registered Dietitian Day.” This year marks the fourth annual Registered Dietitian Day.

The American Dietetic Association is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.

This nutrition message has been brought to you by the Outreach Health Services WIC Program in conjunction with the American Dietetic Association. WIC provides nutritious foods and nutrition counseling to pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women and infants and children up to age 5 as well as breastfeeding assistance to pregnant and breastfeeding women. Call your local WIC clinic at (972) 937-4777 or come by 110 Amanda Lane to see if you qualify.