Promoting Wellness in March with National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month. Dietetic professionals promote nutrition daily, however, Nutrition Month gives us a chance to evaluate our nutrition needs and how we can meet them. This 2019’s theme is “Eat Right, Live Right, and Feel Right.” One easy way to meet this theme is to use the Plate Method.

MyPlate is a great reminder for healthy eating. MyPlate’s focus is on using either a 9 or 10-inch plate and eating the right mix of foods for a healthy you.

When using the Plate method, we want to focus on variety, portions, and nutrition. Try to choose foods and beverages that have less saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars. Choosing these foods can help in reducing health issues such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, and obesity.

MyPlate highlights the basic food groups of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. These different food groups are the building blocks for a healthy diet.

When adopting the plate method, focus on choosing healthy foods and beverages from all five food groups. Those five food groups provide the nutrients needed for a healthy lifestyle. Eating the right amounts based on age, sex, height, weight, and activity levels will help to prevent excess calories and weight gain. Building healthy meals by using the plate method can help provide correct portions/amounts for individuals interested in weight loss.

Think of mealtime changes as a “win” to overall improved health. The plate method guides healthy eating by focusing on making half of the plate fruits and vegetables which are full of nutrients that support good health. Choose colorful fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, and different berries. Include ¼ of your plate as whole grains. Look for the words “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” on the food label. Whole grains provide more nutrients, like fiber, than refined grains. Vary the protein by using the other ¼ of the plate. Choose lean protein foods like lean beef, chicken, pork, fish, eggs/seafood, or even legumes and lentils. Twice a week make meals with seafood or go vegetarian and don’t forget the dairy. Complete your meal with low fat or fat-free milk. You will get the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk but you will be getting fewer calories. If you do not drink milk, try soymilk or include low fat or fat-free yogurt with your meal or as a snack. Avoid extra fat by decreasing the amount of extra sauces or gravy used. Using gravies or heavy sauces will add fat and calories to healthy choices. Try steaming, poaching, braising, baking, broiling or grilling to reduce the amount of unwanted fat and calories.

Don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen. Find ways to turn a non-healthy recipe into a healthy alternative. Try less meat and more vegetables that can add new flavors and more textures to your meals. Try eating at home more frequently so that you know exactly what you are eating. When eating out, check serving /portion sizes and try to compare nutrition information if available. You want to choose options that are lower in calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Try new foods as well as foods that are in season. Satisfy your sweet tooth with healthy options. Fruit can be an indulgent dessert dish. Serve fresh fruit with salad or make a fruit parfait using yogurt. Looking for a hot dessert? Try baked apples topped with cinnamon and walnuts.

Eating healthy is a life-long journey. Using MyPlate offers ideas and tips for healthier eating to enjoy throughout a lifetime. The right mixture of foods in your meals and snacks can help you be healthier now and in the future. Small changes can make big wins. A dietitian can help you on the way to healthy eating and how to adopt your current recipes to the plate method. If you are interested in further information on healthy eating and would like to adopt a healthy lifestyle with food, you can contact your local dietitian or primary care provider.

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