March is National Nutrition Month® (NNM) and it is an annual nutrition
education campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The campaign invites the community to focus on the importance of making
informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity
habits. This year’s theme is
Eat Right, Bite by Bite, and supports the philosophy that every bite of nutrition can be a step
in the right direction towards better health. Small changes can add up
and help get us started on improving our health.
Come join the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) community in celebrating
“bite” of nutrition. The below recommendations can help kick off or continue your
healthful lifestyle. Remember that good nutrition does not have to be
so restrictive and overwhelming.
Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day.
Include healthful foods from all food groups. Your body needs nutrients for your health to thrive. Include whole grains,
protein foods, low fat or fat-free dairy or calcium-fortified dairy alternatives,
and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Quench your thirst by hydrating with water instead of beverages with added sugars. Water
is essential for the body, especially since water helps your body absorb
nutrients and cushions your joints, in addition to many other benefits.
Learn how to read the Nutrition Facts Label on foods. Changes to the labels are in full swing. The label has been
updated to include information on nutrients you should get more of, such
as Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, and Dietary Fiber. To learn more
about all the changes and a guide on how to read the label, visit the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website
Practice portion control will allow you to have a little
bite of everything that you crave while meeting your personalized daily goals.
When deciding on what to prepare and eat, follow the
MyPlate eating pattern. Focus on whole fruits, add variety to your vegetables,
make half of your grains whole grains, vary your protein routine, and
move to low fat or fat-free dairy, such as yogurt. If you wish to strictly
follow a plant-based diet, you can still use the
MyPlate eating pattern. Remember to also focus on less sodium, saturated fats,
and added sugars. For more information and help, visit the website
Try to find time to enjoy your food by turning off the TV, phones, and other electronic devices so you can
enjoy the flavors and textures of the meals and snacks you’re eating.
Plan your meals each week.
Use a grocery list to shop for healthful foods. Look into the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry for foods that need to
be used up first and make a list of items you still need. Sticking to
the list will not only help you save money and avoid food waste but also
help you avoid picking up junk food.
Be mindful of the menu when dining out. After a busy week or a fun way to mark a celebration, dining out can
be a treat but can also be challenging in deciding what to order that
will meet your nutrition goals. Many restaurants will have calorie information,
but others may also identify menu items as being low in salt and or low
carb. If nutrition information is not available, avoid foods that are
fried or served in sauces. You may want to avoid certain entrées
and sides that use the terms: crunchy, crispy, battered, breaded, creamy
cheese, alfredo. Go for entrée and sides that use terms such as
baked, grilled, roasted, steamed, al Fresco, and Marinara.
Choose healthful recipes to prepare during the week. The first step is to pick recipes for the kind of meals you need, for
example, meals that can be made in less than 30 minutes or vegetarian.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be cooking something new every night
of the week. Keep the
MyPlate eating pattern in mind when deciding. Cook things you really want to eat.
When you that, you're less likely to order pizza or stop at a fast-food
Enjoy healthful eating at school and work. Pack your lunch and bring healthy snacks, so you do not have to hunt
down the not so healthy office food or vending machines snacks. If you
tend to lose all willpower when faced with office celebrations, be sure
to eat a healthy lunch like a chopped salad to prevent carb overload.
Plan healthful eating while traveling. Scope out restaurants with healthy food you will want to eat ahead of
time. Also, bring healthy snacks like dried nuts and protein bars. If
you like to travel light, you can buy snacks at the local supermarket
soon as you arrive at your destination. One way to commit to eating healthy
while traveling is to be sure to have veggies with every meal, even when
you're ordering out while traveling.
Learn skills to create tasty meals.
- Keep healthful ingredients on hand. A well-stocked pantry, refrigerator,
and freezer is the way to stay on track for healthy eating. Some suggestions
are eggs, avocado oil spray, blueberries, limes and lemons, nut butter,
oats, olive oil, canned tuna, just to name a few.
Practice proper home food safety. Four simple steps, according to the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention are:
Clean by washing your hands and surfaces often.
Separate foods to prevent cross-contamination
Cook food to the right temperature
Chill food by refrigerating promptly
For more information visit the CDC website:
- Share meals as a family when possible. Even in a rush, families can still
work together for speedy meal preparation, such as adults can be in charge
of the entrée, and older kids can prepare a salad, and little ones
can help set the table.
- Reduce food waste. Be a smart shopper by avoiding purchasing foods that
will expire soon. Reducing food waste is possible with some planning and
safe storage habits.
- Try new flavors and foods. It will open a world to many options. The more
nutritional variety that you will get from your diet can improve nutrition.
Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).
- RDNs want to help you thrive through the transformative power of food and
nutrition. I encourage you to celebrate National Nutrition Month®
by keeping it simple and trying new flavors. Eating right doesn’t
have to be complicated.
- Ask your doctor for a referral to an RDN if you need assistance with reaching
your health goals.
- RDNs can provide personalized nutrition advice to reach your goals.
- Meet RDNs throughout the community. Seek out the supermarket Dietitians
at your local markets who can help you understand nutrition labels and
can provide in-store education.
- If you have a medical condition, find an RDN who is specialized to serve
your unique needs.
Happy National Nutrition Month®! For more resources, please visit the
Images courtesy of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics