Welcome March, one of the greatest months of the year! Not only do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, watch unlimited basketball during March Madness, happily welcome SPRING time, and if you are from Buffalo you can enjoy your Fish Fry Fridays….. but most importantly it is National Nutrition Month!
This Year’s National Nutrition Month theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” Many individuals may not understand what this means or why we celebrate National Nutrition Month. Do I only have to eat with a fork? Do I only have to eat vegetables during National Nutrition Month? During this month does everyone need to go on a diet?
The answer: During March, let’s all incorporate more healthy lifestyle & eating habits, to improve our overall health, and habits we can use throughout the year – not just March!
In addition to being National Nutrition Month, today also marks the day to celebrate where we get all of our wonderful nutrition information: the Dietitian. As Salt stated, a Registered Dietitian is the most qualified individual when it comes to handling an individual’s nutrition.
Since it is such an important day for us fellow Registered Dietitians, I’ve decided to share some of the best tips of the trade:
- Eat More Plants. Fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, & lentils are the best nutrition packed food out there! Filled with vitamins, minerals, and FIBER! Therefore, instead of focusing your meals on which meat you are going to make that night, why not focus on the filling half your plate with food from the earth! EAT MORE VEGETABLES! Additionally, after working with Wellness Education Services, I have partaken in Meatless Monday’s. (This means you do not have to become a vegan / vegetarian in order to be the healthiest person alive. Just incorporate more plant based foods into your diet).
- One meal won’t Make or Break your Health. During one-on-one counseling sessions sometimes individuals get defensive, guilty, or depressed when I ask them “How was your weekend?” or “How was eating dinner with your friends?” It is time to understand that one meal will not cause you to gain 100 lbs, as well as one meal will not cause you to lose 20 lbs overnight. Every meal has an opportunity to be healthy and fuel your body of what it needs at that moment. Think are you going to go on a run or exercise after? Are you hungry at night? Did you skip breakfast?
- Avoid the FAD diets!!! This falls into putting your best fork forward. Try to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, calcium rich foods, poly & monounsaturated fat, and water! This will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and develop a great relationship with food. Therefore, if a diet is eliminating a whole major food group or macronutrient (ummmmm like CARBOHYDRATES) just picture me holding a red flag waving at you frantically to stop! Stop drinking shots of apple cider, consider feeding tubes, consume spoonfuls of coconut oil, fast for 20 hours a day, to lose weight. Does this sound like a long-term lifestyle you want to follow? Also why ditch bread?! Also if you are ever confused about how to eat healthy ASK A DIETITIAN!!!
- Eating Out Does Not Have to be the Downfall of your Diet. Yes when you go out to eat portions tend to be larger, lights dimmer & noise louder to stop you from paying attention to your hunger cues – however this does not have to be the downfall of your healthy lifestyle. Just have a plan on where your party decides to go out, look to see if the menu has nutrition information already calculated and follow the healthy MyPlate tips. Pick lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. For a sandwich, watch out for condiments with added sugar! Instead choose ketchup, mustard, or salsa. You can also skip the fries for a side salad, try to bring home leftovers, and eating slower may also help your waistline.
- Watch Portion Sizes. Yes avocados, nuts, spreads, are healthy sources of healthy fats however, too much can still cause unwanted weight gain. Therefore take the time to measure or visually look to see how much you are actually eating. For chips, trail mix, pretzels, carrot sticks, etc. sometimes the easiest way to know how much you are eating is to put in your own zip lock bags! Therefore you really know how much you are eating!
- Ditch the Soda Pop. Quench your thirst by drinking water instead of sugary sweetened beverages. Not only will this save you calories, but you are hydrating your body. Your body will thank you!
- Have Fun in the Kitchen! During shopping try new vegetables, buy a cookbook and cook your way through it, make a point of trying a different whole grain. Not only is it healthier due to you being the captain and controlling what is in it – but it is fun! It can be time to de-stress from a hectic workday/school day.
As some of you know, for me, healthy eating follows the MyPlate method: filling up half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of whole grains, a quarter of lean protein, and including dairy or calcium rich foods on the side. Plates should be colorful and include variety – even incorporating a sweet every once in awhile! There is so much you can do during the month of March, but it’s important to start by setting realistic goals. For example: eating less cookies. Then, decide how you will implement this goal. Instead of eating a cookie everyday during lunch, I pack an orange or apple! (Yes this is my goal- guilty)!
Goals can be very simple, like trying to eat less cookies. Additionally, it could be walking 10,000 steps a day, drinking more water, or eating mindfully!
Whatever goal(s) you do decide, remember to not make to many changes to overwhelm your daily life- but do challenge yourself!
What is your March Nutrition Month goal????