Every March draws special recognition to the importance of healthy eating. National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year’s theme encourages everyone to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” and reminds everyone that each bite counts. The emphasis is aimed at making small shifts in our food choices as they can add up over time. So let’s make those choices positive. The overall goal is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, develop sound physical activity habits, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.
A healthy eating patterns includes the 5 food groups from MyPlate – making half your plate fruits and vegetables, aiming for half your grains to be whole grain, selecting lean protein sources and choosing fat-free or low-fat dairy foods. If you are ready to put your best fork forward, you may be wondering where to start? The following are some tips to help you get started this National Nutrition Month.
Parents – be a role model for your kids and model healthful eating habits. Offer regular, balanced meals and snacks with a variety of nutrient-dense foods, and most of all, enjoy family dinners each night or as often as possible.
Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients. Consuming a variety of healthy foods helps to reduce the risk of preventable, lifestyle-related chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides some ideas on ways to enjoy more fruits and vegetables and shopping smart at the supermarket.
Not only is it important to put your best fork forward at home but also when dining out. Eating away from home can sometimes undermine our healthy habits, but it doesn’t have to! Choosing healthy options at restaurants is now easier than ever before. Look up the restaurant’s menu beforehand and don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the food is prepared or for a substitute or to add extra vegetables to the dish for example.
No gym membership required! By finding activities that you enjoy and being physically active most days of the week. If you are interested in finding out how to calculate your target heart rate, check out Target Heart Rate: Finding the right intensity by Nikki Prosch.
Speaking with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist will help you learn what your body’s nutrition needs are. Knowing your nutritional needs will help you to reach a healthy lifestyle and decrease the risk of chronic disease. A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist will help you understand which foods can fit into your healthy eating pattern while keeping your tastes and preferences in mind.
Remember, how much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Start with small changes to your eating habits – one forkful at a time!