March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month, a nutrition education and information campaign held by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The theme for 2017 is “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” encouraging us to start with small changes in our eating habits – one forkful at a time.

Eating well is not an all or nothing scenario – it is a continuum and every healthy choice adds up! Focusing on making small changes over time is easier to implement and maintain for lasting healthy change.

Some ideas to get you started:

Increase Variety

  • Include fruits and vegetables of all different colors as they contain different beneficial nutrients.
  • Purchase a new fruit or vegetable during each trip to the grocery store and learn how to prepare it.
  • Vary your protein intake by including lean meats, poultry, seafood, and plant sources of protein like beans, nuts, tofu, and lentils.

Make Healthy Swaps

  • Try fulfilling your sweet tooth with a piece of fruit rather than candy or baked goods.
  • Switch white bread for whole grain bread to benefit from the higher fiber content.
  • Reduce sodium intake by using herbs and spices such as garlic, pepper, or onion powder instead of salt.

Pare Down Portions

  • It’s easy to lose track of how much you eat when you snack straight from the package. Try putting a serving into a bowl to be more aware of how much you are consuming.
  • Set a goal to make half of your plate vegetables at each meal. This will help you control portion sizes of more calorie-dense foods, and increase your vegetable and nutrient intake.
  • Most restaurant portions are extremely large. When you get your meal, ask for a to-go box and place half of it inside immediately. It’s easy to eat much more than you want or need simply because it is in front of you. This trick can help you leave feeling satisfied instead of uncomfortably stuffed, and provide lunch for tomorrow!

Hydrate

  • Drink more water by starting your day with a full glass when you wake up – you’ll begin your day hydrated and “wake up” your internal organs as well!
  • If you take medications, drink a full glass of water with them. Since you’re already used to taking them with a beverage, you won’t be adding a new habit just amending a current one, which can be much easier.
  • When you sit down to read or watch television, bring a glass of water with you and sip it throughout the activity.

These are just a few ideas to help you “Put Your Best Fork Forward” for National Nutrition Month and beyond!