Happy National Nutrition Month® (NNM)!!! NNM is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) to promote healthy nutrition habits and working with a Registered Dietitian (RD). This year’s theme is “Celebrate a World of Flavors”. It’s important to recognize and honor all the different culinary wonders this world has to offer. Each country and culture has something unique about it. Yet each one also uses food as a way to celebrate. Taking the time to explore this world of flavors might open up some new possibilities that you might never have considered before!
Each week of National Nutrition Month® features a different key message. 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. 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.
Week 2 of NNM® highlights speaking with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD or RDN). RDs are highly trained professionals who have dedicated a significant amount of time to studying different areas of nutrition and dietetics. They are also nationally credentialed, and most are licensed healthcare professionals in their state. RDs can work in a lot of different fields such as clinical, food service management, health and wellness, community nutrition, corporate positions (like Coca-Cola), media, and so much more! If you would like to schedule a meeting with me to learn how to navigate using your meal plan on campus, how to make healthier lifestyle choices, or anything food related, please reach out!
Week 3 focuses on planning your meals and snacks each week. Meal planning is a great way to incorporate a variety of foods. It helps save time by having foods 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.
Week 4 discusses creating tasty foods. Whether you cook for yourself at home or eat at the dining halls on campus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there are key ideas that will help you stick to a healthy diet no matter where you dine! If you like to make meals at home, always keep certain grocery staples available. This includes whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat pasta, canned chicken in water, dry beans and legumes, and your favorite fruits and veggies in the freezer. Having these items in your pantry and fridge will really help when you’re strapped for time because of exams and you need to make a quick nutritious meal. If you’re going to go out to eat, look for the menu online before you go. Pick out a few items that sound yummy and fall within the healthy eating guidelines (at least half fruits/veggies, lean protein, unsaturated fat). Most importantly, don’t be afraid to try new foods! Our dining halls on campus offer a variety of international recipes that make you feel like you’re taking a trip around the world. My favorite station to try something new is Delicious Destinations at Juniper Dining. This station is known for offering cuisines from other countries. If you have any suggestions for which one you’d like to try next, please let us know!
To learn more about National Nutrition Month®, please visit eatright.org.
Stay safe, stay healthy!