Health & Food

National Nutrition Month: What it means to me

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Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.

This is me as a toddler, enjoying good food. No rules. I was, and still am, a food-loving rebel!  And look, I even gave this delicious food a “thumbs-up”….I think it was homemade spaghetti.

Eat Right, Your Way, Every DayThat’s the theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month, which starts today, March 1st, 3013.

Learn more here!

This month, and beyond, remember that dietitians like me, as well as other healthcare professionals,  are here to guide you, give you tips, and provide positive encouragement to help you feel your best, not to tell you what to eat, when to eat it, where to eat, or how much you should or should not eat. Why?  Because no one really knows the perfect way to eat.  No one.  Not even that Dr. on TV.  Everyone has the right to feel good and look great, and everyone has the right to Eat Right, Their Way, Every Day!

I like to eat right, my way, every day too.  No matter what that magazine article says, I’m still going to eat past 6 pm on most nights, and have two pieces of cake instead of one small tiny piece on certain special occasions.

Like on this night, last month, when I ate 3 pieces. Hey, I turned 30. So what?

And if I want to make a dirty martini (with blue cheese stuffed olives) from this extra large vodka bottle (wowza! I found this in my parent’s cabinets) and enjoy every salty sip, I will.

I mean, you hear it every day from people like me, “Everything fits into a healthy diet”.  Right? Some people think this statement that is way too general.  But it’s true!  I can have my martini, or cake, or chocolate (times three) because the majority of my diet is made up of this……

INSTAGRAM!

Fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and vegetables (not in the photo above, obviously, but you know I eat tons and tons of veggies).

INSTAGRAM!

The Journal of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently published a position paper, seen above.  The title of the paper was “Total Approach to Healthy Eating”.  This was a nice segue to this year’s National Nutrition Month, because ithighlighted the importance of focusing on variety, moderation, and proportionality in the context of a healthy lifestyle, instead of focusing on single nutrients or targeting specific nutrients. Generally a total diet approach is meant to reduce consumer confusion and consumer reliance on supplements.

  • Variety: Refers to an eating pattern that includes foods from all MyPlate food groups and subgroups (grains, proteins, dairy (or alternatives), fruits, vegetables, oils, and SoFAS too! ie: Solid Fats and Added Sugars)
  • Proportionality:  Eating more nutrient-dense foods and beverages (ie: foods that have fewer calories and more nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and less of others (such as those SoFAS from above)
  • Moderation: Limiting overall portion size (get a smaller plate, it helps) and choosing foods to limit intake of saturated fats and added sugars (ie: look for reduced fat versions of cheeses and leaner version of meats, and try to aim for lower sugar snacks, such as those that contains less than 10 grams of sugar).

Visit ChooeMyPlate.gov to see your personal guidelines.

OK, so what does “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” mean to me, as a dietitian?!

  • Only you should decide what to eat, no one else should decide for you.
  • There is no right or wrong way to eat, as everyone has a different lifestyle and schedule to follow.  The only right way is your own personal way!  Want to eat three meals and no snacks? Fine! Want to eat four meals and two snacks?  Ok!  Want to eat something before you workout? Sure, why not?! Want to workout on an empty stomach? If you prefer that, do it! The key is to find what works best for you.  We are all unique and there isn’t one perfect way for everyone.
  • When it comes to specific nutrient distributions, some people feel better inside, and out, on a higher carbohydrate, lower-fat diet, while others feel better on a higher protein and lower carb and intermediate fat diet (me!). Not everyone fits into the perfect mold determined by the latest research. And remember, research is dynamic, just as nutrition is dynamic.
  • We need to remind ourselves not to let the media overly manipulate us and dictate what we do or do not eat.  If we let this happen, food becomes a stressor. This is not at all what it should be.  When you feel lost or don’t know what to do with your diet, get help from an RD who can guide you on the right path to follow for your own personal nutrient needs, depending on your background, lifestyle, cultural preferences, and overall goals.

My lifestyle is one that leaves me constantly on the go.  I rarely sit down to a full meal, but instead, I snack throughout the day.  This is not the right way to eat for everyone, but it’s the right way for me.

I plan to celebrate the month by continuing to educate and help people see food in a positive light, and not as a stressful part of their day. I plan to do some unique demos at work that incorporate fruits, veggies, whole grains and yogurts so people can see that healthy foods can also be tasty foods.  I specifically want to focus on kids this month, and get the younger generation to learn just how tasty it can be to eat healthy!  And of course, I’m also going to indulge a bit, because every healthy diet should include a nice indulgence.  Cheers!

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