While March seems more like National Quarantine Month, it is actually National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
And as many of us likely have more time at home right now, this is a great time to work on healthful eating practices, right? This year, the Academy is putting forth four main messages
1. Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day. A pretty broad statement, right? It’s simple, though. It means including all of the food groups in your meals throughout the day. Take a look at your plate in the morning, be sure there is a protein, a carbohydrate and a fruit or vegetable. Then for lunch, do the same and for dinner repeat. You may find that previously, your meals were mostly just carbohydrates and protein with almost no vegetables. Eating nutritiously also means staying hydrated. Choose water, or zero-calorie beverages to ensure you aren’t consuming too many calories. To make informed and healthful decisions, you need to know about the food you consume, so don’t forget to take a peek at the nutrition label. This way you can stay calorie aware. Lastly, practice mindful eating and portion control.
2. Focus is on planning. Ever heard the saying, “fail to plan, plan to fail?” Nothing could be truer for healthful eating. Plus, now is a great time to focus on meal planning and reducing food waste. Use a grocery list to get only what you need from the store; if you go food shopping hungry it is likely you will over buy. When choosing your meals for the week, take a close look at the ingredients, and see where you can substitute healthier options.
On HoustonChronicle.com: How to stock your pantry and fridge for coronavirus quarantine
3. Learn skills to create a tasty meal. Now really is a great time to become more comfortable in the kitchen, creating meals and trying new flavors. You can even get your kids involved by tasking them with easy food prep chores, like washing and drying produce. Your family can also try to incorporate family meals into your regular schedule. Studies have shown tremendous benefits from this, including increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, portion control and increased mindful eating. Remember to observe good food safety practices while at home. Left overs should not be in the fridge for more than a week, and always cook meats to the proper temperature.
4. Follow the advice of registered dietitians. If you are looking for personalized nutrition advice, it is important to consult a registered dietitian, rather than a nutritionist. How do you know the difference? A dietitian will have the letters RD, or RDN after their names. You can ask for a referral from your doctor and find one within your local community. A dietitian is someone who has gotten, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, in addition to at least 1,200 hours of supervised practiced and passed the national RD exam. Many RDs have areas of specialties, including sports, pediatrics, diabetes and adolescents.
It is quite amazing what we can accomplish with good food and nutrition. Stay safe, eat healthfully and seek out help when you need it.