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National Nutrition Month® 2018- "Go Further with Food"

  • Category: Nutrition
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Reema Kanda, RD, Clinical Dietitian at Hoag Orthopedic Institute
National Nutrition Month® 2018- "Go Further with Food"

March is National Nutrition Month® and the theme for 2018 is encouraging all to “Go Further with Food,” not only by welcoming the numerous benefits of healthy eating habits and physical activity, but also by urging us to find ways to cut back on food waste.

I am a fan of this year’s theme because it reminds us, the consumers, to manage food resources at home while saving both nutrients and money. Some commonly wasted foods are fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and seafood. This results in wasted nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins, as well as minerals, such as calcium and vitamin D.

Let’s celebrate National Nutrition Month® and “Go Further with Food” all year. Here are five tips to get started.

Plan meals based on foods you already have.

Look into your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. The items on hand will give you inspiration for meals that you can prepare for the week. If you’re missing ingredients for a recipe, you can go to the store with a plan and purchase what you actually need.

Only buy food you’re able to eat before its expiration.

Do you ever find yourself walking down the aisles of your local grocery store and end up buying items that you had to throw away 1 week later because you forgot it was in the refrigerator and no longer was safe to consume? Next time shop with a list and only buy the amount of food that you or your family will eat or freeze in the next few days. The purchased foods that are likely to spoil quickly should be visible so that you remember to eat them.

Store food properly to prevent food spoilage.

Planning meals is an important step in reducing food waste, but by planning to only purchase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that will be used within a few days can further reduce nutrients and food wasted. Also, washing produce is an essential food safety practice, however washing some fruit too far in advance and placing it in the refrigerator can speed up the fruits’ decay due to excess moisture. In addition, how you store produce in the refrigerator is also important to prevent food spoilage. For example, food science suggests apples can cause some other fruits and vegetables to ripen more quickly, therefore keep them in a separate drawer.

Read dates on food items.

What do “use by…best by…best before…and sell by” dates actually mean? Food manufactures provide these dates based on what they consider to be the best quality for that specific food item. Foods like ketchup, mustard, and other condiments have suggestions of “use by” dates, however in many cases these items are safe to eat beyond the stamp date if they have been stored properly. Perishable foods such as meats and dairy typically have a “sell by” date. It is possible these foods may be used few days after the stamp date as long they were stored at safe temperatures. Regardless of the date stamped on the package, don’t risk eating or drinking anything that you suspect has spoiled. For more information on food proper storage refer to Is My Food Safe or the USDA Food keeper apps.

Go further with food when you eat out. Be mindful of portion sizes. Portions of food over the years have increased in size, therefore order smaller sizes of foods or drinks when eating away from home. If that is not an option, ask for a to-go container at the start of the meal, and set aside some left overs you can enjoy for the next day.