As discussed last week, March is National Nutrition Month® (NNM)! NNM is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Throughout the month, everyone is encouraged to learn how to make informed decisions about healthful eating. This year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate”. It’s all about getting the nutrients your body needs in a way that’s tailored to what you like.
Each week of the month features a different key message. In part 1 of this extended blog post, we’ll talk about the first two week’s ideas. Week 1 talks about eating a variety of nutritious foods every day. Different foods offer different nutrients, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and a host of other biological compounds that our bodies use to stay healthy. When we eat the same foods every day, we deprive ourselves of certain nutrients that may be essential to how our bodies function. By eating a variety of foods every day, we ensure that we’re getting every nutrient we need in the proper amounts. To do this, you want to eat foods from every food group (fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, unsaturated fats). You’ll also want to stay properly hydrated and drink lots of water. A helpful skill is learning how to read a nutrition facts label. I’ll write future blog posts about all of these topics, but if you want to learn how to read a nutrition label now you can visit the FDA’s website here.
Week 2 of NNM® focuses on planning your meals each week. Meal planning is a great way to incorporate a variety of foods every week. It helps save time by having meals ready before hand. It can also help alleviate some stress and worry by not having to come up with ideas last minute. To plan your meals each week, start with a menu. Write down what you want to eat every day. This can be the same food for a few meals to cut down on prep and cook time. Write a grocery list with every item you’ll need. Then when you go to the store, only buy what’s on the list (this is a difficult but important part of the process!). Don’t forget to include snacks too. If you like to eat out, plan ahead by looking at the menu online before you go. Make sure to use the skills learned from week 1 and incorporate foods from all the food groups.
In next week’s blog post, we’ll go over the concepts for weeks 3 and 4. To learn more about National Nutrition Month®, please visit eatright.org.
Stay safe, stay healthy!