Bite into a healthy lifestyle for nutrition month

The word “nutrition” has long been associated with a list of all the foods we’re not supposed to eat. No salt, no sugar, no fat, no flavor, no fun. But the tasty truth is that modern nutrition advice is about what we should be adding to our diet for good health. That’s the message behind National Nutrition Month with the 2015 theme, “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle.” It’s celebrated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics each March and this year’s focus is on making informed food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health. In other words, let’s enjoy food and fitness.

“This year’s theme gives consumers an easy reminder that achieving optimal health is not about a specific food or time or year, but rather a life-long commitment that leaves plenty of time for the foods and activities we love,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and academy President Sonja Connor said.

It’s all about you

Age, gender, existing health conditions and daily routines all play a factor in determining which foods we should eat more of and which we should avoid for personal health. “Knowing which foods contain the nutrients you need is the next step,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and academy spokesperson Marjorie Nolan Cohn. “Most people know that oranges are a good source of vitamin C, but so are tomatoes and potatoes. Dairy foods like milk are a good source of calcium, but so is broccoli. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, but so do whole grains and beans.”

Make snacking count

In the spirit of what to eat more of for good nutrition and great taste registered dietitian nutritionist and academy spokesperson Isabel Maples encourages healthy snacking on fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and low-fat dairy.

“A well-planned snack can provide an energy boost, and satisfy your midday hunger. If you haven’t eaten for three or more hours, a snack can help bring up your blood sugar level for optimal energy,” Maples said.

Snacks should be mini-meals with fewer than 150 calories. Nutrition tips include advice to snack when you’re truly hungry not when you’re bored or stressed. Which brings us to the other crucial component of a healthy lifestyle- exercise. The physical benefits go beyond a slimmer body and a healthy heart. Jennifer McDaniel, board certified sports dietitian said, “Additional advantages include stress relief, better sleep and a more positive mental outlook.”