Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? Created by the American Dietetic Association, the event is dedicated to bringing attention to various aspects of nutrition, including the importance of making informed food choices as well as developing and maintaining good eating and exercise habits. National Nutrition Month was first observed as a week long event in March 1973 and then became a month long celebration in 1980 due to increasing public interest in nutrition. The March 2013 theme for National Nutrition Month is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” The theme recognizes that food preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions and health concerns all impact individual food choices.
You might ask, why celebrate National Nutrition Month? Well, simply because good nutrition is important! The fact is that the majority of diseases that affect Americans today, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, can be a result of unhealthy eating habits. A number of chronic conditions, such as hypertension, can be greatly improved by making healthy food choices. Following a healthy diet will also give you more energy and increase your general sense of well being! Ever heard the saying “you are what you eat?” Its true! Everything you put into your body affects your health in some way.
You can celebrate your own health and National Nutrition Month by keeping a few helpful health hints in mind. First of all, think fresh. Stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts for a healthy snack. Snacking on these foods is smart they are low in fat and sugar and provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals. Unlike junk food, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber which will help keep you fuller longer! At meals, try to increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables you consume. A good guideline is to divide your plate into four sections and fill one-half with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with meat, and the remaining quarter with starch. Be sure and chose lean meats (i.e chicken, turkey), whole grains (i.e whole wheat bread, wheat pasta) and low fat dairy products more often. When cooking, try using fresh herbs and spices for seasoning instead of butter and/or salt to cut fat and calories without losing good taste! Also be sure to drink a lot of water everyday and limit the amount of sodas and sweetened fruit juices you consume.
Eating healthy can be challenging at times, so don’t feel guilty if you indulge occasionally, as long as you are not doing so every day. Keep in mind that everything in moderation is OK! In my opinion, the best way to make successful changes to your lifestyle is to take baby steps toward your goals. For example, if you are an avid soda drinker, try cutting down the amount of soda you drink down by one can each week until you are down to zero cans instead of going cold turkey. If you find you have multiple goals focus on accomplishing only one or two at time so you aren’t overwhelmed. Following a healthy diet might be a little hard at first but you will certainly reap the benefits in the long run. Therefore, I encourage you to celebrating National Nutrition Month this month by committing yourself to making healthy lifestyle changes!