Happy first day of National Nutrition Month®! You might not have even known today was such a special day until now but fear not, I'll give you the inside scoop.
Each year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates nutrition and RDNs in the month of March, coming up with a theme and related key messages. This year's theme is "Go Further with Food" which can be interpreted in a variety of ways, but to me really reinforces the importance of decreasing food waste and making your food choices work for you in multiple ways including taste, nutrition and social engagement.
The theme and key messages really resonate with me this year. Here are the messages plus some of my thoughts!
Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
Variety is something that can easily get overlooked when it comes to nutrition because we often get mesmerized with the latest buzz word or super food. A health-promoting diet is not collagen or matcha you guys, it's powered by plants, variety, flexibility and enjoyment! The more varied your diet is, the more likely it is that you are regularly meeting your basic nutrition needs.
Consider the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
Food waste continues to top the list of food trends for the year and for really good reason. It's so interesting to see large companies prioritizing this issue too. As an example, I recently read an NPR article that talked about how the food company Forager makes cold-pressed juices and then uses the leftover pulp for snacks like crackers and chips. How cool is that?
I am also noticing that food bloggers are creating more recipes that incorporate "scraps" that are typically tossed. Case in point, from two of my favorite RDN blog ladies: Carrot Top Chimichurri and Vegetarian Mushroom Broth.
Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week.
It can be really tempting to buy half the store when you grocery shop so you don't have to go back for several weeks, but shopping more frequently has perks. Instead of trying to avoid the grocery store, try to streamline your meal planning and shopping process so you get the best of both worlds.
Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you.
While portion size recommendations seem to be on the out in terms of nutrition advice, eating the amount that's "right for you" is something everyone can get on board with. It can be tough to determine what "right" actually means at any given time but learning to optimize your food environment, tune into your hunger/satiety signals and honor taste preferences can be a great start.
Continue to use good food safety practices.
Did you know that an estimated 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States? (1) So much media attention puts the spotlight on topics like agricultural methods and ingredients but the importance of food safety is hugely undervalued. For more information on this, check out this site.
Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
This goes back to that whole "stop forcing yourself to do exercise that you hate" thing that I swear by. There's a difference between challenging yourself and being miserable. Learning to differentiate the two is a total game-changer.
Realize the benefits of healthy eating by consulting with a registered dietitian nutritionist.
RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs. I don't mean to toot my own horn here (or maybe I do) but I think dietitians are a pretty talented and compassionate group of professionals. If you want or need some more individualized nutrition advice, I would highly recommend working with one!
Which one of the key messages resonates most with you and why?
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Burden of Foodborne Illness Overview. https://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/estimates-overview.html