March is National Nutrition Month®, which was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on raising the importance of making informed food choices. If healthy eating isn’t a part of your lifestyle, give yourself a month-long challenge. Take this opportunity to improve your diet…to eat more fruits and vegetables, to eat less fats and more lean protein, and to reduce sugar and salt.
Eating healthy requires planning, motivation, and at times, much discipline. It necessitates a commitment. For the entire month of March adopt a healthier diet by incorporating these rules:
- Prepare meals in advanced, particularly lunch so that you don’t eat unhealthy choices while at work.
- Make a grocery list to include fresh greens, fruits, and lean protein.
- Switch from whole or 2 percent milk to 1 percent or skim.
- Drink water…eight 8-ounces glasses is a recommended rule of thumb.
- Replace white bread, white rice, and white pasta with whole grains.
- Eat less take out.
- Aim to eat less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily.
- Eliminate saturated fats such as butter, fried foods, poultry with the skin, and dairy products made from whole or 2% milk.
- Eat more foods with high fiber such as oatmeal, whole grains, legumes (beans).
- Eliminate soft drinks and other sugary beverages.
A healthy diet doesn’t necessarily mean a tasteless diet (no one wants to eat bland food). Most people eat what they like and what tastes good. Make your food healthier and flavorsome by seasoning foods with crushed red pepper instead of salt, using extra virgin olive oil instead of butter, broiling or grilling instead of frying lean meats, and adding a splash of lemon juice to water instead of soft drinks.
So what about the southern comfort food that you enjoy on Sunday afternoons? You can either take the full challenge…give it up for a month or indulge just one day a week (but don’t go overboard). Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean giving up all of your favorites. It just means you’re going to commit to eating healthy most of the time with an occasional splurge.
National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetic Association. The campaign focuses attention on the importance developing sound eating and physical activity habits. For more information, visit www.eatright.org.