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Healthy Tips in Honor of National Nutrition Month

One in 4 Americans will die of heart disease in the United States (source). Approximately 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year (source). Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States (source). Some contributing factors to these statistics include increased portion sizes, lack of physical activity, behavioral related issues, lack of available resources and environmental pollution. Evidently, all of these contribute in some way to the increase in overweight and obese individuals in America, which then leads to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. What can be done? Where do we start?

March is National Nutrition Month. The month was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help increase awareness of the importance of nutrition and how nutrition experts, known as Registered Dietitians (RD), can help you achieve your goals. Specifically, the month is geared to educate people on the importance of making healthy food and drink choices, create improved eating habits, and incorporate more physical activity into their daily lifestyle in order to prevent the onset of many chronic diseases (source).

Many organizations celebrate this month by having wellness tips, cooking demos, educational resources, and other nutrition and wellness related events to help educate and spread the word on why taking control of your health matters!

Here are some healthy tips for 2017:

  1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetable. Fruits and veggies add color, fiber, flavor, vitamins and minerals to your plate. Experiment with fresh, frozen, and canned.
  2. Watch portion sizes.  Get out those measuring cups and see how close your portions are to the recommended servings!
  3. Prepare healthy snacks. Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals. Choose from 2 or more food groups such as peanut butter with apple or raw vegetables with cottage cheese.
  4. Follow food safety guidelines. Wash your hands, separate raw protein foods from ready to eat foods, and cook foods to proper temperature are some ways to ensure your food is safe to eat!
  5. Get cooking. Preparing food at home can be healthier since you are in control of how it is prepared. Learn how to dice an onion or cook dried beans. Get started at www.eatright.org/howdoi
  6. Experiment with more plant based meals. Vegetables, beans, whole grains, and lentils are all great substitutes instead of meat and can be cost effective and better for your overall health. Try one meatless meal per week to start!
  7. Drink more water. Hydration is important for your body and skin! If your urine is not light to clear, you’re not properly hydrated!
  8. Be active. Physical activity has many health benefits. Start with 10 minutes at a time and build yourself up to 2 hours and 30 minutes a week (for adults). Try a walk after dinner or play a game of catch if you’re not a fan of going to a gym!
  9. Explore new foods and flavors. To keep from getting bored, try different grains, vegetables or fruits that you’re not used to. This helps add more nutrition and eating pleasure by varying your choices.
  10. Get to know food labels. Reading the nutrition facts label can help you shop, eat and drink smarter.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many goals at one time. Everyone has to start somewhere! Try to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time oriented) and work one day and meal at a time to achieve your goals! Consult a Registered Dietitian in your area if you are seeking additional help in learning how to better manage your health.

This post was written by Ina Miller, Registered Dietitian and Clinical Nutrition Manager for Midland Memorial Hospital.

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