Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March is National Nutrition Month

As the 2010 Winter Olympics have just come to a close, the American Dietetic Association's annual National Nutrition Month is finally here. This year's theme, From the Ground Up, celebrates the return of a growing trend across the U.S. where consumers are utilizing farmer's markets. For a variety of reasons, consumers are developing a loyalty to their local growers. People value the variety of the produce available, they want to support their local economy and farmers, and in the process, rejecting imported produce due to questionable food quality and safety. Even institutional food service systems such as schools, are purchasing from local growers. Farmer's markets and community gardens also have the potential to improve access to and utilization of fresh produce to low income communities, and be an avenue for optimizing the health of Americans.

Boost your nutritional fitness this month by trying one new food each day from the fruit and vegetable group.

Drink at least one or two cups of skim or 1% milk; have it by the glass, in cereal, in coffee, or in recipes.

Plan a treat that adds up to 100 calories (two small cookies, or 4 small pieces of chocolate for example).

Don't waste more than one bite on any food that doesn't taste good (or is not worth the calories).

Have breakfast within an hour or two of waking up; include 1 cup low fat/skim milk, 1/2 ounce nuts/seeds or 1 Tbsp nut butter or 1 egg, and at least one whole grain (oatmeal, whole wheat cereal, whole grain bread or English muffin or pita).

Instead of having your usual fruit-on-the-bottom or flavored yogurt, go for plain low- or non-fat yogurt (or Greek yogurt) and add 1/2 cup of berries, 1-2 tbsp of nuts, seeds, or dried fruit, or 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce.

Instead of a whole sandwich, have only half; balance the meal out with fresh fruit or some grilled or raw veggies.

Have 4-6 ounces of fish, healthfully prepared (unbreaded, unfried).

To boost fiber, replace your usual 100% fruit juice with 1 cup or a piece of fresh fruit (like a whole orange, apple, or cup of berries or pineapple).

Go meatless for the day; incorporate other protein-rich foods like beans, peanut butter, soy foods like tofu or tempeh, low fat dairy foods, and whole grains.

Instead of going out to eat, ordering in, or getting take out, cook or prepare all your food at home for the day.

Think about what you should eat more of, and not what you “shouldn't” eat.

Try one of these suggestions each day for the entire month, or at the very least infuse several of these into your life more often. If you do, you'll likely lose weight and feel energized and great, not to mention markedly improve the overall quality of your diet.

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