Sunday, March 1, 2015

National Nutrition Month

March starts one of my favorite times of the year, National Nutrition Month! This is a nutrition education and information campaign held annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Basically, it focuses on how important it is to develop healthy eating and physical activity habits. This year's theme is "Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle." Also in March is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day (March 11). This is a time to not only recognize RDNs for their awesome job of helping people develop healthier lifestyles, but also, to increase awareness of RDNs as providers of food and nutrition services.  For more information, check out the NNM site.

Going along with the "Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle" theme, here are 5 tips for keeping your meals healthy!

1. Build your meal around your lean protein. I always get people who ask me what to eat for dinner. My first response is what is your protein (chicken, fish, tofu, etc). Then, we think about what goes well with it. For example, you have chicken for dinner so maybe you plan some steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes. Or if you have fish, maybe you plan for stewed tomatoes and rice. Or maybe you want to do a chicken stir fry with rice and string beans. Don't overcomplicate your meals. Just remember you want a lean protein, non-starchy vegetable, and starch (could be vegetable or other carb).

2. Eat slowly and put your fork down between bites. Let your body have time to digest and tell you you are full. Also, don't "clean your plate." Wrap up your extra dinner for a balanced packed lunch the next day!

3. Check in with mindfulness. Before grabbing a snack from the cabinet, think to yourself, "Am I really hungry?" Sometimes we eat out of boredom or stress. Instead of immediately grabbing for the chips or cookies, drink a glass of water or hot tea. Then, take a walk or read a book for 10 minutes. If hunger still strikes, then reach for a healthy snack (veggies and dip, Greek yogurt, apple and peanut butter, etc).

4. Eat from a plate, not a package. Read the food label and portion out a serving size into a bowl. When we eat from the package, it turns into mindless eating. Most of the time we don't realize how much we ate until the whole package is gone!

5. Plan your meals and snacks. You can do this in a couple of forms. One way is to pick a day to batch cook a few meals/sides. Then, each day you can just pull from what you already made. Another way is to simply write down what you plan to make for the week. From this information, you can build your shopping list (remember to stick to it)! Having planned meals and snacks can help to decrease grabbing unhealthy foods out of convenience.

Happy National Nutrition Month and Happy soon-to-be Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day to all of my fellow RDNs :)

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