The month of March means it is time for another celebration of National Nutrition Month! This annual campaign was created by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help inspire people to learn how to make healthier lifestyle choices and reduce chronic disease. The idea focuses on the importance of improving lifestyle eating and exercise habits to bring wellness.
Here are a few ideas to get started on building a healthy lifestyle:
- If you haven’t done it and have a chance to, see a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN): This can take the guesswork out of knowing where to start or what to do. Registered Dietitians (RDs) or RDNs are specialized in medical nutrition therapy to reduce risk of disease or chronic conditions. Dietitians work in schools, doctor offices, hospitals, diabetes clinics and many other places. Ideas of topics that they can educate on include weight management, diabetes, blood pressure, exercise etc. You can ask to be referred to an RD or RDN at Cherry Health if you are interested.
- Learn how to plan meals: Eating healthy may feel overwhelming sometimes, but it is easier than you think. The meal can be quick to make and doesn’t need to be large and complicated or expensive to be healthy. One idea is to use my plate for a balanced healthy meal since it includes: the grain, dairy, fruit, veggie, and protein group. Pick at least 3 foods from these groups for balance. A plan for breakfast can look like a fruit, a cup of milk and an egg. Use this idea for lunch, dinner or snacks. To make it healthier, you can include foods from the food groups. You can get recipes and portion sizes from choosemyplate.gov
- Learn how to read ingredients and food labels: A Dietitian can be valuable to help teach you this since food labels can often be confusing and misunderstanding. If there isn’t a lot of time to sort this out, start with looking at the added sugars. If sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup is in the first 3 ingredients, it is usually added. A good example is yogurt. Added sugar is now appearing on the food label. Here is a trick: look at added sugar grams on the food label and divide by 4. This equals your teaspoons of sugar. This goes by servings size. The bigger the portion, the more sugar.
- Make it simple: Ordering pizza can be simple but not always healthy. A healthier option might be bagged salad with light dressing, rinsed cubed lean ham on salad, 100% whole wheat bread with light butter, and an apple.
- Go back to the basics: The basics to me as an RD aren’t in a box or a takeout bag for health. The food is close to the original form such as fruit, veggies, lean meats (not chicken nuggets), sweet or white potatoes, rice, a cup of milk, plain yogurt with added fruit and nuts. This seems to work very well over the long run for health and weight loss.
Registered Dietitian at Barry Community Health Center