In 1973, the month of March was chosen by the American Dietetic Association to promote the importance of making healthy food choices and the development of sound eating and exercise habits. The event started as a one-week campaign and by 1980 became National Nutrition Month®.
This year’s National Nutrition Month® theme is “Eat Right.” With so many choices and our busy lifestyles, eating right and getting enough exercise are challenging tasks. It’s worth the time and effort to make good choices and stay active today, as this can positively affect your future health and well-being.
Want to make healthier choices? Pick one or two recommendations from the list below to work toward during National Nutrition Month®. Flag your calendar to revisit the list next month, evaluate the changes you’ve made, and choose another area to focus on during April. All while maintaining your previous choices of course!
· Eat 2-3 servings of fruit each day. For a 2,000 calorie per day diet, that’s about 2 cups per day. Choose a variety of fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruit.
· Go for volume with veggies. The non-starchy vegetables are the least calorie dense of all the food groups, yet packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Cover half your dinner or lunch plate with vegetables, the more colorful the better. Orange or dark green vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli and leafy greens should be included often in your 5 servings a day. That’s about 2-3 cups of vegetables daily for most adults.
· Make at least half your grain choices from the whole varieties. You need at least 3 ounces of whole-grain breads, pastas, cereals, rice or crackers daily. Look for the word “whole” before the words wheat, rice, oats or corn on labels.
· Choose lean proteins. Go for lean cuts of meat and white meat poultry, and don’t forget fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. Use beans or peas as a main dish often. In fact, eating 3 cups of beans per week can reduce your cholesterol by 16 percent. Choose low-fat cooking methods, and when you choose meats remember that portion sizes don’t need to be very large. Two to three ounces of meat twice a day is plenty for most adults.
· Get your daily calcium by having 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt. Substitute 1 ½ ounces of low-fat cheese for one cup milk. If you don’t like milk or can’t consume it, choose calcium-fortified foods and beverages or lactose-free milk products.
· Reduce your intake of sugar, salt and saturated fats. Read food labels, compare brands and make the best choices. Most often, the less processed a food is, the healthier it is.
· Get 30 minutes of physical activity each day, 60 minutes for even more health benefits or better weight control. Teenagers and children should have 60 minutes of physical activity daily, most days.
More than 68,000 members strong, the American Dietetic Association is the world’s largest organization of nutrition professionals. The ADA is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.
Source: This article was approved by the American Dietetic Association.
About the author: Janet Potts has been a registered dietitian since 1984 and a Saladmaster® owner since 1995. In 1996 she was awarded the ADA’s "Recognized Young Dietitian" for the state of Oklahoma. In the year 2000, Janet was promoted to Director of Food & Nutrition Services at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa and has recently completed four years of service on the Board of Directors for the National Society for Healthcare Foodservice Management. She lives in Tulsa with her husband and two young children.