National Nutrition Month 2020: Bite By Bite
March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is Bite by Bite, which serves as a reminder that small choices add up to big changes in creating a healthier lifestyle. Often people get overwhelmed thinking that healthful eating is all or nothing. This year’s theme really helps to emphasize that every choice you make to eat in a more healthful way is important. Here are some great steps you can take, bite by bite!
Focus on eating a variety of nutritious foods every day. Strive to include all the food groups, and eat a rainbow of colors every day. Reading nutrition labels is an important part of making more healthful choices, as it helps you know what is in the food that you eat every day. The nutrition label has been revised, and helps to highlight calories, portion size, and added sugars. Also, focus on eating more mindfully, to help curb over-eating by watching portions. Thoughtfully slow down and really enjoy your food. Try eating at the kitchen table instead of in front of the television.
Next step, focus on planning your meals each week. Pre-planning your meals can make sure that you have the foods on hand to make healthful meals for the week, instead of ending up in the drive-thru because nothing is ready to cook. Menu planning looks different for everyone. Some like to plan out with a lot of detail and have all their meals and snacks outlined for the week. But if you don’t consider yourself a planner, it can be helpful to plan out 7 dinners and then decide which meal you are having that morning so that you can get foods defrosted. There are lots of meal planners that you can find online, or you can use a dry erase board or notepad on the fridge to plan things out.
Learn new skills to create tasty meals. Finding resources for new meal ideas can help you create meals that are good tasting and good for you. Websites from the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association have great healthful recipes and ideas. Cookbooks on the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet also are great resources. Having a well-stocked pantry will also ensure that you have ingredients on hand to make a meal quickly and easily. Recommended pantry items would include things like frozen vegetables, whole wheat pasta, beans, brown rice, low-sodium broths, and spice blends.
Consider consulting a Registered Dietitian. There is some confusion about the differences between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist. A Dietitian can also be a Nutritionist (RDN-Registered Dietitian Nutritionist), but a Nutritionist is not a Dietitian. A Nutritionist certification is often done with only a few credits of education, where as a Dietitian has a college degree and 1200 hours of internships under their belt, as well as a national registration exam to ensure competency. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is working hard to ensure that the public can get research and science-based information on nutrition and nutrition-related concerns from a qualified professional and so making sure that you look for these qualifications is important.
Hopefully you will take some time this March to think about your nutrition goals and ways that you can eat in a more healthful way, Bite by Bite.