This Together We Thrive article is authored by Bri King, Licensed Dietitian with the Warren County Health District
March is National Nutrition Month! This is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the main government body in the field. This campaign promotes making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. The theme for 2022 is "Celebrate a World of Flavors." This year, the Academy wants to celebrate uniqueness and diversity by including international cultures and cuisine. We can all make an effort this month to introduce ourselves to new foods and flavors, and observe traditions in other cultures.
Throughout National Nutrition Month, each week has a different goal. Week one of National Nutrition Month is to "Eat a variety of nutritious foods." Eating a variety means trying new foods such as different fruits and vegetables, or cooking or seasoning them in a different way. Varying a diet means that all food groups are consumed in moderation and from different food sources so we can ensure we are getting all the healthy nutrients our bodies need. It is also important to understand nutrition labels so we can determine healthy choices and appropriate portion sizes.
Week two emphasizes seeing a nutrition professional for dietary counseling to determine your specific needs. A nutrition professional usually has the title Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RD/RDN). Make sure the person you are seeing has the appropriate credentials. These professionals are trained to determine energy needs and provide guidance with healthy weight and disease management. Most people need a doctor referral for a dietitian and many services require a fee, but Warren County has a dietitian that offers free services, regardless of insurance status! Bri King, RD is happy to set you up with a free one-on-one consultation, group classes and additional wellness services through the Warren County Health Department.
Planning your meals and snacks is a main focus for week three! The saying is true: "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail." Coming up with a grocery list and buying healthy foods to pack and take to work and school will ensure you have sustained energy throughout the day. You may find you think better and perform better at work, school and sports! With each meal and snack, try to incorporate a high-fiber carbohydrate, such as vegetables, fruits, beans/legumes or whole grains. Add in lean protein with meat, fish, tofu/soy or eggs. Healthy fats like nuts, nut butter, avocadoes and plant oils will provide satiety and keep your heart healthy. For extra bonus points, add in a healthy non-starchy vegetable. This ensures you are getting all the nutrients you need and that you can go several hours without feeling hungry or tired.
Finally, week four promotes "Creating tasty foods at home." Is there a favorite dish in your family that has been passed down from generation to generation? Make it and enjoy it! Modifications can be made to make the meal healthier by selecting brown or cauliflower rice instead of white rice, whole grain noodles instead of white noodles, and using olive oil instead of butter or vegetable oil. Enjoy meals with family and friends when possible. Consider hosting a dinner night at home instead of going to a restaurant! Trying new and healthy foods and flavors is a great way to come together with others! If you need help with meal prepping and cooking skills, seek help from our county dietitian.
Are you ready to try a new healthy food today? It might surprise you how good it tastes! See additional tips, recipes and information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For more information about consultations, meal planning and cooking tips, contact Bri King, RD.