March is National Nutrition Month, and it’s a great time to make healthful changes to your eating and exercise plans.
The theme this year is “Personalize Your Plate,” which encourages you to make changes that work for your lifestyle.
Regional One Health’s Clinical Nutrition Team is reaching out with tips to help you make that happen, including planning ahead, eating a variety of foods and finding easy ways to cook healthy meals.
If you want to improve your eating and exercise habits, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach –experts say the best way to make a lasting change is to find strategies that work for you.
Regional One Health’s Clinical Nutrition team is reaching out during March’s National Nutrition Month to offer advice and education about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ theme for National Nutrition Month 2021 is “Personalize Your Plate.”
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. We are all unique with different bodies, goals, backgrounds and tastes,” per the Academy. “Personalize Your Plate can assist you with tailoring a healthful eating plan as special as you are.”
The Clinical Nutrition Team has some tips for creating a personalized healthful eating plan.
Aim for variety
Eating a variety of foods helps you take in the nutrients you need while not overdoing it on less-than-healthy options.
Eating a variety of foods is a great way to get the nutrients you need and make sure you get to eat the flavors you enjoy.
As a general rule, you should fill your plate with half fruits and veggies, one-fourth lean protein and one-fourth whole grains.
However, there are plenty of choices within those guidelines to give you a chance to select foods you enjoy.
For fruits and vegetables, eat a wide spectrum of colors.
Rich red strawberries and tomatoes, bright yellow sweet corn and orange carrots, fresh green kiwi and avocado…by eating a mix of colors, you’ll get a variety of both nutrients and flavors.
Great options for lean protein include meats like chicken, salmon and lean cuts of beef…and also non-meat choices such as lentils, beans, egg whites and tofu.
When choosing whole grains, look for whole-grain breads and pastas, oatmeal, and – good news – popcorn!
At the start of your week, look at your calendar and decide how many meals you’ll be able to eat at home. While we can’t always control our choices when eating out, we can control the foods we bring into our homes and how we prepare them.
Make at-home meals healthy and balanced. Find recipes with lots of vegetables, minimal added salt and sugar, and cooking methods like baking or grilling rather than frying.
Once you have your recipes, make a list of ingredients and shop for groceries. Do any prep work you can – like chopping veggies – ahead of time. Remember, if your meals are appealing and easy to prepare, you’re less likely to give into the temptation of running out for fast food.
Find easier ways to cook
Finding easy cooking options that work for you also makes you more likely to stick with cooking at home. Along with making preparation easier, these options make clean-up a breeze.
Plan ahead so the meals you prepare at home are healthy. It’s also a good idea to look for easy cooking methods like slow cookers, Instapot meals, one-pot meals and sheet-pan dinners.
If you have a slow cooker, search for healthy recipes that you can prepare before you leave for work, so you’ll have a hot, ready meal waiting when you get home.
An Instapot is another great tool – it’s similar to a slow cooker but takes less time.
You can also make easy meals with just your stovetop and oven – one-pot meals and sheet pan dinners are great options.
Stick to recipes with a lot of vegetables and minimal salt, sugar and oil.
National Nutrition Month is a great time to focus on healthy eating and exercise habits.
The event is organized annually by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which offers a wealth of information to help you improve your health, no matter what your personal needs and goals.