By John A. Ruibal, MS, RDN, CSSD, Prowers Medical Center’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
National Nutrition Month® is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign, celebrated each year during the month of March, focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. In addition, National Nutrition Month® promotes the Academy and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically based food and nutrition information.
Eating healthy and increasing exercise does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. The first step is deciding if you are ready to make a change. Once you decide, it is important to come up with a plan to get you on your way to better eating and fitness habits. If you need a little help getting started, reach out to qualified professionals that can guide you.
Make this National Nutrition Month your month to start your health and wellness plan, or to keep it moving forward, by eating right, bite by bite.
Below are five tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to keep your goals on track.
- Consult an RD or RDN.
Whether you want to lose weight, lower your health-risks or manage a chronic disease, consult the experts! Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can help you by providing sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice.
A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist has a bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition or related field at minimum, and most have master’s degrees or higher education. To earn a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential, a dietitian must also be accepted to an extensive nine-month internship, after which they take an exam to earn the credential. To maintain their credential, they must complete 75 hours of continuing education every five years.
Long story short: if you don’t know where to start, these professionals can help you accomplish any nutritional goals you set for yourself.
- Pick three small areas of your eating patterns to change.
Start by recording everything you eat for three to four days. This requires honesty with yourself.
Write down your meals or utilize technology, like a diet app, to make a record of everything you eat and drink for these three to four days and include a weekend day.
Next, review your record and highlight three habits you want to change. Some examples of unhealthy habits include:
- Eating a lot of snack foods after dinner.
- Drinking many high-calorie beverages.
- Consuming a large number of foods with extra fat or sugar.
Develop a plan to change these habits. If you need help, make an appointment to see a Registered Dietitian.
- Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture in addition to vitamins, minerals and fiber to your plate. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal. Experiment with different types, including fresh, frozen and canned.
- Be active.
Regular physical activity has many health benefits. Start by doing what exercise you can. Children and teens should get 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day, and adults at least two hours and 30 minutes per week. You don’t have to hit the gym — take a walk after dinner, or play a game of catch or basketball.
- Schedule family mealtime.
Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week. Set a regular mealtime. Turn off the TV, phones and other electronic devices to encourage mealtime talk. Get kids involved in meal planning and cooking, and use this time to teach them about good nutrition.
Let’s make this year the year to change your exercise and eating habits. Small changes are lasting and obtainable, and change will only occur when you are ready. Consistency wins the day and you can eat right, bite by bite.
For more information on nutritional services offered at Prowers Medical Center, go to prowersmedical.com or call the Clinic at (719) 336-6767.