National Nutrition Month
March is National Nutrition Month and this year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging Americans to Get Your Plate In Shape and focus on making informed food choices and developing healthy diet and exercise habits.
Nutritious food isn’t always convenient in our fast-paced society. Think about a few questions. Did you eat breakfast this morning? When was the last time you had a side of vegetables with your meal? Was your afternoon latte skim milk or whole milk?
Here are 6 things to keep in mind for a healthier, fuller lifestyle during National Nutrition Month.
#1 – Healthy eating
Eating healthy is more than having a salad before dinner; it involves evaluating everything you consume from snacks to drinks to meals. There is no time like the present to give your diet a make-over and eat healthy!
#2 – Portion control
Today’s portion sizes are well beyond the recommended servings and have drastically exceeded the portion sizes of the past. Our bodies don’t need the additional calories and our waistlines are suffering because of this.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends the following:
Fruits and vegetables- Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables whether that is fresh, frozen, canned or dried.Calculate your daily fruit values and your daily vegetable values based on age and gender.
Grains- Make one half of your grains whole grains. Whole grains and refined grains make up pastas, tortillas, breads and cereals. Whole grains are more nutritious because they contain the bran, germ and endosperm of the grain. Refined grains are milled and remove the bran and germ leaving out fiber, iron and some vitamins. Calculate your daily grains value based on age, gender and physical activity level.
Protein- Eat lean and low fat proteins and vary the types you consume to include vegetarian and seafood. Protein helps you build and retain muscle and nourish your cells. Calculate your daily protein values based on age, gender and physical activity level.
Dairy- Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk for reduced calorie benefits with the same amount of calcium and vitamin D. Calculate your daily dairy values based on your age.
#3 – Avoid the add-ons
When you order from a restaurant or you serve your family at home, avoid the additional cheese, dips and sides. Drink a glass of water before you start eating and another glass while you are eating to help you feel full quicker and avoid over-eating.
#5 – Food as medicine
Food has been used as medicine for thousands of years and is essential for preventing and healing disease. A nutritious and vitamin-enriched diet can prevent heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Fiber- A fiber-enriched diet can help prevent colon cancer and keep your digestive system healthy and functioning properly.
Vitamin C- Vitamin C is a well-recognized anti-oxidant and immune system booster, but it can also prevent scurvy, a Vitamin C deficiency that is resurfacing among college males.
Dark Greens- The color of your vegetables make a difference in your diet as well. Dark leafy greens are powerful anti-oxidants that remove harmful chemicals from your body.
Low calorie- Eating lower calorie versions of your favorite foods can help maintain or achieve a healthy weight to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
#6 – Balance
A balanced diet is not the only key to optimal health. Regular physical activity combined with a healthy diet will also improve your overall quality of life. With as little as 30 minutes of physical activity for adults, you can change your life and reduce your risk of many cancers, diseases and conditions.
Although it is only National Nutrition Month during March, do your body a favor and focus on your food choices all year long. Your body, your family and your health will thank you for it.