Open Accessibility Menu

National Nutrition Month 2021: Personalize Your Plate

  • Category: Nutrition, Blog
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Reema Kanda, RD
National Nutrition Month 2021: Personalize Your Plate

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 “Personalize Your Plate” and supports the philosophy that a healthy eating routine will not look the same for everyone, and that’s OKAY! It is no secret that creating a healthy lifestyle does not happen with a one-size fits-all approach.

There are so many nutritious foods that will meet your nutrient needs. Start celebrating by thinking about the foods you eat and how can you incorporate various sizes, shapes, and colors to your plate.

Come join Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) community in celebrating all plates of nutrition. The below recommendations can help kick off or continue your healthy lifestyle.

When personalizing your plate, start by making half of your plate filled with fruits and vegetables. A variety is recommended since different colored fruits and vegetables provide different amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. The fruits and vegetables you choose may depend on what is available where you live, what is in season, what is your food budget, and what foods you like or know how to prepare. There is no wrong plate when it comes to fruits and vegetables. For most people, 1 ½ cups to 2 cups of fruits and 2-3 cups of vegetables daily are recommended based on individual calorie needs.

Below are some of my favorite suggestions.

Have some fun with fruit. Fruits can be eaten by themselves or paired with other foods.

  • Include fruits with breakfast.
  • Look for recipes that feature fruits such as salads or even main dishes.
  • Put together a fruit and cheese plate the next time you’re entertaining guests, instead of chips and dip.
  • Try pomegranate seeds or dried fruit mixed with rice or other grains as a side dish.
  • Enjoy a cup of berries with a spoonful of whipped cream.

Get creative with vegetables.Fresh, frozen, or lower sodium canned vegetables are all good options. Experiment with creating your favorite vegetables in new ways.

  • Add vegetables to your eggs for breakfast.
  • Use raw vegetables to build a salad or dip into salsa or hummus for a snack.
  • Make sandwiches, tacos, and wraps burst with color, flavor and nutrients by adding raw or cooked vegetables, such as cucumber and tomato slices or sautéed onions and peppers.
  • Serve roasted vegetables alongside cooked protein foods, like fish, chicken or beef.
  • Vegetables are a great addition to soups and stir-fry dishes.

When personalizing your plate, include grains. There are two subgroups of grains. Refined grains include white rice, many types of cereals, breads, and pastas. However, including whole grains have added health benefits. Whole grains provide dietary fiber as well as a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, just like fruits and vegetables do. The amount of grains recommended daily for adults ranges from 5 to 8 ounce-equivalents or “servings” and more may be needed depending on how physically active you are. At least half of grains should be from whole grain sources. Examples of some whole grains are: whole wheat flour, bulger, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice.

Below are some of my favorite suggestions.

Substitute with healthy whole grains.

  • Select whole grain breads for making simple and delicious sandwiches and toast.
  • Choose whole grain corn or whole wheat tortillas for some tasty tacos and wraps.
  • Use whole wheat flour in baked goods or when making pancakes and waffles.
  • Substitute whole grain noodles for pasta.
  • Use brown rice in stir-fry dishes or with curries.

When personalizing your plate, include protein. Meats, fish, beans, peas, lentils, and nuts and seeds are all considered to be “protein foods.” Focus on lean or low-fat sources that are prepared in a healthful way, such as grilled or baked instead of fried. Plant based proteins like beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds are unique from other protein foods as they also provide dietary fiber. Protein foods needed daily vary however 5-6 ½ ounce-equivalents or “servings” is the range for most adults. It is also important to include fish or shellfish twice a week in place of other protein foods to help increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. When consuming meat and poultry, look for lean cuts of meat such as round steak and skinless poultry.

Below are some of my favorite suggestions.

Enjoy protein rich foods from variety of sources.

  • Replace refined cereals with eggs at breakfast. Eggs provide important nutrients like Vitamin D, selenium, and choline.
  • Pair peanut butter or other tasty nut butters with fruit like apple or banana.
  • Munch on Edamame (steamed soybeans).
  • Top your protein packed Greek yogurt with almonds and fruit.
  • My favorite… substitute rice for quinoa and is great for breakfast bowls and grain bowls with lentils and tofu.

When personalizing your plate, include low fat or fat free dairy. Consider milk, yogurt and cheese to provide protein, calcium, and variety of other nutrients. Many dairy products are also good sources of Vitamin D. Approximately 3 cups equivalents or “servings” per day are the recommend amounts for most people. Try to include at meals, snacks, and/or as a dessert. If you cannot drink milk or choose not to, there are lactose-free milks available and calcium-fortified soymilk or yogurts that can provide similar nutrients as regular milk. Be sure to compare the Nutrition Facts Labels when shopping for these foods and beverages.

If you need help in understanding the nutrition facts label, follow the link below get yourself familiar with then new labels.

Below are some of my favorite suggestions.

Make dairy healthy.

  • Use low-fat yogurt to make a parfait and top with fruit.
  • Make oatmeal or cream-based soups with low-fat or fat-free milk.
  • Add milk or calcium-fortified soymilk to coffee drinks or smoothies.
  • Add cottage cheese to your salads or mix with healthy fruit.
  • Substitute plain or Greek yogurt to make delicious dips or use in place of sour cream.

When personalizing your plate, limit saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Review the nutrition facts label when comparing food. When ordering out you can review the nutrition information prior to eating at the restaurant. Learn to prepare healthier versions of your favorite foods at home. This way you can control ingredients and the amounts.

If you need help with personalizing your plate? Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).

    • RDNs want to help you thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition.
    • 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.
    • Visit to find an expert.

Happy National Nutrition Month®! For more resources please visit the following link: