National Nutrition Month is celebrated each March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The celebration focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
As a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, I am excited about this year’s theme, “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” It is a reminder that each one of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices. Small shifts in our food choices, one forkful at a time, can lead to healthier lasting changes we enjoy now and into the future. Every bite counts.
The MyPlate website (www.ChooseMyPlate.gov) offers ideas to help get you started with eating healthier, and the Academy’s website (www.eatright.org) is another great resource.
The main emphasis in these resources is to help individuals learn and apply the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines were created to help people in the United States eat better and decrease their risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes.
The guidelines urge eating a diverse assortment of foods and beverages across and within all the food groups to fulfill the recommended amounts of nutrients needed for our good health. Other dietary components that can negatively affect our good health are addressed. Examples of these include: added sugars, solid fats, like saturated fat and trans fats, and sodium, also known as salt.
The guidelines also recommend getting regular physical activity that we enjoy and avoiding excess calories, both leading to weight management.
The following are some fork-sized ideas for changes you can make in your diet. Start small by making one change, then build on it. Over time the progress you make will be more sustainable if it is made slowly.
Eat fruit three days in one week as a snack in the afternoon. Try one new recipe that uses a whole grain. Serve a dessert in mini-portions. Drink low-fat milk or water with dinner every day for a week. Plan one meal with servings from all of the five food groups (Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein, and Dairy). Plan one snack that includes at least two food groups. Use the Nutrition Facts label for one item on your shopping list to make a healthier choice. Plan one meal with fruit as a dessert.
Put Your Best Fork Forward and create an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods, promotes your healthy size, and helps you enjoy improved health now and throughout your future.
Debbie Coblentz is a registered dietitian living in Churchill County. Your comments in response to this article are welcome at Debra.Coblentz@bannerhealth.com)