It’s March everyone and this means more than just wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. March is also National Nutrition Month (NNM) and this year we’re going to “Put Our Best Fork Forward!” This means we are going to make every bite count by making small shifts in our eating habits. Eventually, making these small shifts now can help us have better health in the future, plus making small changes are easier to keep than big changes. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) have set 5 main ideas for this year’s NNM and these messages are to help us all find our individual healthy eating style.
- Creating an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite healthy foods. Choosing the healthy foods that you enjoy make eating healthy easier to do and keep up with. You will be more willing, on your part, to eat healthy foods if you actually enjoy the food you’re eating.
- Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients. Cooking and experimenting with different foods can be fun for the family as well. Studies have shown that kids that help their parents cook in the kitchen are more accepting of different foods and tend to have a variety of foods in their diet as compared to children that don’t. If you don’t have children just yet, gather some friends and enjoy a healthy homemade meal that you made together.
- How much we eat is just as important what we eat. Eat and drink the right amounts for you, as My Plate encourages us to do. What works for some people might not work for you. The amount of food and fluids that a competitive athlete needs is different from the amount of food and fluids an average person needs. A great way to find out how much you need is using the My Plate Supertracker online tool at https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/. This tool can track the food you eat, how much exercise you do, and more.
- Find activities that you enjoy and being physically active most days of the week. The recommended amount of physical activity for an adult is 30 min, 5 days a week to equal about 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Moderate exercise can mean dancing, certain sports, brisk walking, and so on. The AND recommends 3 days of aerobic exercise and 2 days of strength training (push-ups, sit ups, etc.).
- Manage your weight and lower your risks by visiting a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). RDNs can provide sound and personalized nutrition advice to suit your lifestyle and meet your nutrition needs. They can answer any questions that you have about nutrition and try to lead you in the right direction for your health.
With these key messages in mind we can help ourselves become healthier and “put our best forks forward.” National Nutrition Month is all about bettering our health choices to improve our health for the present and the future. Taking these small steps can help us all improve our health and increase our quality of life.
By: Caprisse Johnson, Dining Services Junior Nutrition Assistant
References: http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/toolkit, https://www.choosemyplate.gov/physical-activity-amount, http://www.articles.extension.org/pages/73371/cooking-with-kids-in-schools: why-it-is-important