March is national nutrition month and it is also a great time to check in on your health goals! This month was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help raise awareness of the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits.
This year’s theme is Eat Right, Bite by Bite which aims to encourage us to take small steps toward a healthier eating pattern. Every little bit of healthy nutrition is a step in the right direction and small changes can have a big impact on our overall health. For National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics presents 4 weekly key messages and today we talk about what these recommendations are and ways to incorporate them into everyday life.
1. Vary your diet.
Tips for eating a variety of nutritious foods each day include:
- Include healthful foods from all food groups.
- MyPlate is a great tool that helps you remember to include foods from all the food groups at each meal. Fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy contribute to a balanced diet. Healthy snacks are another easy way to make sure you eat foods from all the food groups.
- Hydrate healthfully.
- Quench your thirst with water instead of drinks with added sugars.
- Practice portion control.
- Use half of your plate for fruits and vegetables and the other half for grains and lean protein foods. To complete the meal, add a serving of fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt.
Here are examples of what a complete MyPlate meal might look like:
Aloha chicken combines brown rice (grain) with chicken (protein), pineapple (fruit), bell peppers and onions (vegetables). Serve with a glass of milk or side of nonfat greek yogurt (dairy) for a balanced meal.
Sweet lime fish tacos combine tortillas (grain) with tilapia (protein), pico de gallo and lettuce (vegetables). You can serve these with fruit and yogurt on the side for a healthy twist on taco Tuesday!
Mediterranean pasta combines whole wheat pasta (grain), beans (protein), zucchini and bell peppers (vegetables), and feta cheese (dairy). Simply serve with a side of your favorite fruit for a balanced vegetarian meal.
2. Plan your meals each week.
Knowing what your meals are for the week can help you make healthier food choices. Ways that help you enjoy healthful eating at school, work and home are:
- Use a grocery list to shop for healthier food options.
- Be menu-savvy when dining out.
- You can eat out and stick to your healthy eating plan! The key is to plan ahead, ask questions and choose foods carefully. Compare nutrition information and look for healthier options like grilled, baked, broiled or steamed.
- Choose healthful recipes to make during the week.
- ONIE has hundreds of simple recipes that make eating healthy easier for your family. Check out our recipes page for ideas. You can search by ingredients, cook time, meal-type and more!
3. Cook and prep.
Practice skills that make it easier to create tasty meals at home.
- Keep healthful ingredients on hand.
- Share meals together as a family when possible.
- Instead of eating on the run, plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week. Set a mealtime, turn off all electronic devices and encourage mealtime talk. Get the kids involved in meal planning and cooking and use this time to teach them about good nutrition.
- Try new flavors and foods.
- Add more nutrition and new flavors by expanding your range of food choices. When shopping, make a point of selecting a fruit, vegetable or whole grain that’s new to you or your family. Even better, let the kids choose a new food to try! They are more likely to try a new food if it is something they helped pick at the store.
- Check out this link to find more ways to make mealtime a family time!
4. Visit an RDN.
Consult with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for personalized nutrition support.
- Ask your doctor for a referral to an RDN.
- Receive personalized nutrition advice to meet your goals.
- Whether you want to lose weight, lower your health-risks or manage a chronic disease, talk to the experts! RDNs can help you by providing sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice. So this month, aim to Eat Right, Bite by Bite! Small changes can have a big impact on your health. Try to vary your diet, plan more meals, cook and prep, and remember to talk to an RDN if needed. Happy eating and happy National Nutrition Month!