March is National Nutrition Month, and it is a time for individuals to recognize how important it is to eat healthily and exercise regularly. Nutrition is essential because food is what provides the body with the energy and nutrients necessary to live a healthy life. Managing proper nutrition is also required for maintaining a healthy weight. This year, National Nutrition Month focuses on the theme ‘Eat Right, Bite by Bite.’ A healthy diet not only helps shed pounds and provides a healthy living. It has an impact on a positive mood and overall happiness.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics created the Eat Right, Bite by Bite campaign to encourage people to practice informed, healthy eating habits, and regular physical activity. The theme for this year breaks down into weekly schedules.
Week One: Eat a Variety of Healthy Foods Every Day
As of 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists five food groups that collectively ensure a balanced diet and proper nutrition. They are fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. Maintaining a portion-controlled diet involving these five food groups ensures a diet loaded with nutrition and encourages a healthy weight. Furthermore, there is a great benefit to reading and understanding nutrition labels on food packaging. Nutrition labels serve to inform consumers, so they know exactly what they are putting into their bodies. These labels provide information such as ingredients, nutritional value/content, expiration dates, and allergy information.
Week one of National Nutrition Month also emphasizes the importance of staying hydrated. The body needs to stay hydrated. Hydration benefits the body in many ways. The body needs water to maintain body temperature, delivering nutrients throughout the body, promote proper organ function, and to lubricate joints. Nutritionists recommend at least 64 ounces of water every day.
Week Two: Meal Planning
Studies have proven many benefits to meal planning. Preparing portion-controlled meals every week allows an individual to have a structured diet. Meal planning promotes healthier eating because of the likelihood for someone to rush into an unhealthy meal because of convenience or a lack of time to prepare something nutritious on the spot. It also prevents waste, saves time, and saves money. It is also easier for people to lose weight if they have the calculated caloric intake that comes with meal planning.
Grocery lists not only make shopping more manageable but also enable an individual to make wiser, healthier choices without buying something unhealthy on impulse alone. They also save time because shoppers aren’t wandering around looking for items using only their memory. Lists are also reference materials that keep shoppers from impulsively going off the list, which is also suitable for weight loss.
Week Three: Learn New Skills
Week three encourages healthy eating by suggesting the practice of new and different skills in the kitchen to create healthy meals. One important part of this week is about creating food safety awareness. Practicing proper food safety habits prevents the spread of foodborne illnesses and keeps people from getting sick.
Another focus of week three is about healthy food habits. For example, keep only healthy ingredients in the house that are rich in nutrients. Also, step out of the ordinary by purchasing new, flavorful foods that may not be as common in the kitchen. Additionally, many markets offer recipes and even cooking demonstrations with healthy options.
Week Four: Consult With a Nutritionist
A registered dietician nutritionist (RDN) is an expert in the field of nutrition, which has the official requirements to provide nutrition therapy and design nutrition programs professionally. People benefit from RDNs in many ways. For example, some people may be considering having a bariatric medical procedure to prevent weight gain. Consulting with an RDN may help them decide if they should try a Medically Supervised, Non-Surgical Weight Loss Program to help them lose weight, instead of surgery. But if they do choose bariatric surgery, an RDN is invaluable in helping them make sure they are getting the right amounts of protein, fats and other nutrients to sustain healthy weight loss, and manage their weight long-term.
RDNs also provide advice for expecting mothers on what kind of diet is best for pregnancy, as well as the early years of the infant’s life. They know how to tailor a diet that is best for people that wish to lose weight or to improve their physical performance during exercise or sports. RDNs are also great at providing advice for everyday life, such as how to read nutrition labels and how to eat healthy without spending so much money.
The weekly key messaging for this year’s National Nutrition Month focuses on customizing a diet that is high in nutritional value and makes it easier to stick to a healthy diet. With a little bit of dedication, living a healthy life will become easier over time, and those individuals will find themselves in a happier place.
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