March is National Nutrition Month, an annual nutrition education campaign by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focusing on the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy habits.
While there are endless food options with the ease of online ordering and delivery services, it is up to you what you decide to put in to your body. The theme for National Nutrition Month 2012 is “Get Your Plate in Shape.”
As registered dietitians, we encourage our clients to think before they eat. Here are a few ways to “check” your meals to make sure you’re getting the right types and amounts of nutrients for a healthy weight and lifestyle:
Make half your plate vegetables with a side of fruit. Produce is packed with antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals to protect against chronic disease.
- Fruit makes a great, portion-controlled snack. Aim for two servings each day.
- Be creative in the kitchen. Add vegetables to sauces, pastas and dishes. Try a new recipe. Challenge yourself to eat two to three different colored vegetables each day.
Eat whole grains, beans, peas and lentils. These foods are packed with fiber to help stave off hunger and help promote a healthy and regular digestive system.
- Choose 100 percent whole grain products, including bread, pasta and crackers.
- Move outside your comfort zone. Try a new starch each month: quinoa, bulgur wheat, barley, wild rice, red lentils, green lentils, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, red beans, garbanzo beans and black-eyed peas to name a few.
Eat low-fat dairy and protein. Choosing low-fat animal products can help reduce your risk of heart disease and decrease sources of unhealthy calories.
- Look for “reduced-fat”, “made with 2 percent milk”, “low-fat”, “fat-free” and “skim” cheese, milk and yogurt.
- Incorporate lean ground turkey, chicken breast, and fish into meals.
Listen to your body. This is the most important tip. Focus on how you feel after you eat. Think about how the food looks, smells, feels and tastes. Food is meant not only to nourish the body by providing energy, vitamins and minerals, but also to be enjoyed!
Kelly Roehl, MS, RD, CNSC, LDN, os a nutrition support dietitian in the neuroscience intensive care and surgical units at Rush University Medical Center.