In September of 2013, it was reported on that a 2-year-old boy underwent gastric bypass surgery in order to stem his seemingly uncontrollable weight gain. The surgery is an extreme measure and a method of last resort to help morbidly obese individuals lose weight. The fact that the patient in question is 2 years old is without precedent, and on some level, hard to fathom.

Stories like this are sobering reminder of the obesity problem in this country. March is National Nutrition Month and a good time to take charge of the foods we are feeding our families. Nutrition, after all, is an important part of our overall health, yet it often falls by the wayside in our hectic lives. Throw in the allure and convenience of processed foods, and it's akin to a battlefield out there.

This is a battle, however, that can and should be won. As the saying goes, we are what we eat, and neglecting good nutrition now will come back to haunt us. So take steps now to ensure that your family eats wholesome and nutritious foods every day.

1. Be Organized

As every parent knows, the road to getting anything accomplished is paved with proper planning, and eating right is no different. When a parent is stressed with activities and deadlines, who can blame them for turning to convenience food? This situation can be avoided, however, if meals are planned ahead of time. Prepare the ingredients (chopped vegetables, fruit) in the morning or even the day before. Pasta, soups, stews, and casseroles can be cooked and stored in the fridge or freezer and heated up at mealtime. Add a salad and some bread, and you have a meal. Raw veggies (broccoli, peppers, carrots) with some Ranch dressing add a healthy zing and are popular with kids.

2. Stock Up on Healthy Foods at Home

Eating a healthy diet has a number of positive benefits, including reducing your families risk for obesity, increasing longevity, helping your kids sleep and doing well in school. However, this requires having healthy foods at home in the first place. Stock your fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables, try to replace processed white starch (cookies, crackers, chips) with whole grains, and whatever you do, reduce your consumption of sugar. Healthy choices apply to snacks as well as meals.

3. Be Active

Nobody knows the importance of exercise more than a parent, especially when it means getting their kids out of the house and out into the fresh air. Exercise burns calories to help families stay in shape, which can do wonders for everyone's self-esteem and have important psychological and emotional benefits. Plus, getting off the couch and out the door means less time with the potentially damaging influences of popular media. Being active is also a way for kids to bond with their friends or make new ones, not to mention a great opportunity for families to spend quality time together while having fun.

4. Avoid Liquid Calories

One of the mantras of good nutrition is that empty calories should not take the place of healthy foods, and one of the biggest culprits is sweetened beverages, which can add as many as 600-700 extra calories to a meal. Since sugary beverages taste good and are easy to drink, they are often mindlessly consumed and end up replacing food. Our bodies have to work even harder to process all that excess sugar, and the extra calories can significantly increase a person's risk for obesity. Serve your family water at meals, and stand your ground.

5. Cook More at Home

There are countless benefits to eating meals at home together as a family. In addition to serving healthy foods and saving money, family meals are also good for the emotional well-being of our kids. Eating together helps families to bond and get along, and it's also a good opportunity for parents to teach kids about manners and civility. Plus, mealtime is a chance to slow down our busy lives, and it ensures that you know that you are feeding your family healthy and wholesome foods, free of synthetic chemicals and GMOs.

If you have questions or concerns about your child's health or diet, speak with your pediatrician. For more information on obesity as well as tips on healthy eating, visit the website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and For tips on celebrating National Nutrition Month, visit the website for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.