It’s National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is (as seen above) GET YOUR PLATE IN SHAPE! And let’s not forget another very special day coming up; March 14th, which is Registered Dietitian Day (I’ll except gifts in the form of healthy snacks, dark chocolates, and money if need-be. hehe).
Here are a few ways to “Get Your Plate in Shape” from the food and nutrition experts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association):
- Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables: Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange varieties. Add fresh, dried, frozen or canned fruits to meals and snacks.
(This is my modified version of this recipe for sauteed broccoli rave with crushed red pepper)
- Make at least half your grains whole: Choose 100 percent whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.
(Butternut Squash Pizza, Made with Brown Rice Flour)
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk: Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories. For those who are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.
- Vary your protein choices: Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs. Keep meat and poultry portions small and lean. And be sure to choose seafood as the protein at least twice a week.
(Slightly Southwestern Salmon Soft Tacos)
- Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars: Season your foods with herbs and spices instead of salt. Switch from solid fats to healthy oils like olive and canola oil. Replace sugary drinks with water and choose fruit for dessert (and maybe some dark chocolate!)
- Enjoy your foods but eat less: Avoid over-sized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Cook more often at home where you are in control of what’s in your food. When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options.
The point of NNM is not to focus on nutrition for the sole purpose of “celebrating National Nutrition Month”, but instead you can think of it as the perfect time to re-evaluate your new year’s goals (or….resolutions if you made them). While the theme is “Get Your Plate In Shape”, you may have other nutrition-related goals that are more personal to you, for example, one of my nutrition-related goals for this year was to eat less at night (I used to eat around 500 calories after dinner, no joke, crazy right?) I‘ve re-evaluated my goal and discovered that now I’m down to about 200-300 calories, which is perfect and allows me to still enjoy some evening snacks while watching all of my favorite Food Network and Bravo TV shows!
My snack still consists of unsweetened cocoa powder mixed with Greek yogurt, plus another piece of chocolate on the side. I find that eating chocolate late at night works best for me because I don’t have the opportunity to then crave it the rest of the day. I mean….I’m going to bed soon at that point!
Ok, back to the topic at hand. While you are thinking about your personal nutrition goals for the year, let me quickly remind you of just a small handful of research that has been done just this year on how proper nutrition can really be the best medicine;
Oranges, grapefruits lower women’s stroke risk
Omega-3s may guard again brain decline
Kid’s language issues tied to mom’s low vitamin D
The best foods for thought, literally
If your nutrition goals had anything to do with weight loss, weight management, or simply recording your food, I would like you to check out two great programs. First, SuperTracker. This is a great tool that is part of the ChooseMyPlate website, which allows you to create a personal plan and track how you’re doing. You can also request tips and motivational e-mails to be sent to you each day!
I took a poll on Twitter (@CandidRD, follow me!) and found that MyFitnessPal was a favorite among “tweeters” (and this is the favorite among my clients as well). It’s a free service that allows you to create nutrition goals and track your progress throughout each day/week/month. You can use it on your smart phone or computer (or both).
Or, you can be really cool like me and track your food and/or your goals on paper. I have a list of my weekly goals (not just nutrition-related) clipped onto my weekly planner. I look at them everyday.
Question: How will you celebrate nutrition this month? How will you get your plate in “better shape”? Have you re-evaluated your nutrition-related goals this year (or your fitness or other goals)? How have you been doing?