March is National Nutrition Month®, an initiative started by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics to bring attention to the importance to two facets of a healthy lifestyle: getting the right amounts of nutritious foods and daily exercise. This year’s theme, Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle, emphasizes those two facets perfectly.
The words “nutrition” and “healthy” are used a LOT… between healthcare professionals and patients, in media (sometimes accurately, many times not) and in everyday conversation. But when registered dietitian-nutritionists talk about “nutrition,” we’re typically focusing on eating patterns and foods that do the following:
- Maintain or achieve a healthy weight;
- Promote health; and
- Reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
The great news is that there’s no ONE “healthy” diet. In fact, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee identified three eating patterns (Healthy American-style, Healthy Mediterranean-style, Vegetarian) that help Americans meet these goals in their recently-released Scientific Report. This report serves as the foundation for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which will be released later this year.
My five favorite tips on this handout…
- Eat breakfast. You’ve been fasting all night. A tasty and nutritious morning repast is the healthiest way to wake up your metabolism. Choose dishes that help you meet your whole grain, lean protein, fruit and vegetable quotas: steel-cut oats with seeds and apples, nonfat yogurt with berries or a spinach-mushroom egg white frittata.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. So simple. Use the MyPlate method and build your plate around vegetables and fruit first, with a side of heart-healthy protein, whole grains, nonfat dairy and/or heart healthy fats.
- Get cooking. Bottom line: We tend to eat fewer calories, smaller portions and healthier foods when we eat at home. Aim to cook more meals at home.
- Enact family mealtime. Studies show that children whose families eat at least one meal together every day perform better in school, engage in less risky behaviors, are less likely to be overweight and tend to have healthier body image.
- Eat seafood twice a week. As a dietitian who provides nutrition counsel to food companies, like National Fisheries Institute, I have seen first-hand the vast amount of science that show how eating just two seafood meals a week is important for a healthy heart and essential for baby brain and eye development.
Again, these aren’t the only ways to keep your waist slim, your brain fit and your heart ticking, but they are easy ones to fit into most lifestyles. And, that’s what’s most important: Finding the healthy behaviors that fit into your lifestyle.
PLEASE SHARE: What are the healthy habits that keep YOU motivated? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!