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Celebrating National Nutrition Month

By: Dorothy Clarke, MBA, MA, RDN, LD and Sheetal Parikh, MS, RDN, LDN

Dorothy Clarke, Regional Vice President MBA, MA, RDN, LD

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month (NNM) is a nutrition education and information campaign created to celebrate each year in March with a theme that encourages healthy eating. This year the Academy’s theme is, “Personalize your Plate”. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food and beverage choices as well as developing holistic eating habits and physical activity. During March, we also celebrated our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) on RDN Day, which was March 10th. On this day, RDNs had the chance to showcase their skills, ability, and knowledge of nutrition and dietetics with patients, clients, family, friends, and the community to increase awareness about the importance of good nutrition. As we all know, holistic wellbeing is not complete without a good regimen of healthy eating and physical activity to prevent the onset of many chronic diseases.

Sheetal Parikh, MS, RDN, LDN

For some people in our society, the word “fad diets” suggests restrictive dieting, cutting out food groups, and trying to lose weight. Equating nutrition with an inflexible diet moralizes food choices and introducing guilt into what they eat or do not eat. A healthy relationship with food can add joy to the day when we are flexible in our choices and remember to enjoy food in the company of others. We all come from diverse cultures and traditions with different food beliefs. As the world has become global, we have introduced a variety of foods that have enriched our diet such as curries, farro, freekeh, ginger, black eye peas, quinoa, and acai from different cultures. As RDNs, we believe no food is bad, however food in high empty calories, processed foods, high sugar, high salt, and high fats can be compromising to our health. We also like to emphasize that meals should include colorful vegetables, healthy carbohydrates, plant-based or lean protein to nourish the body and the mind.

Morrison Healthcare believes in the Power of Food, the power of wellness, and takes the time to celebrate March as NNM and RDN day. Morrison celebrates this month by having wellness tips, cooking demos, educational resources, and other nutrition and wellness-related events to help educate our partners, our clients, and employees to spread the word on why taking control of your health matters! This year Morrison Healthcare’s theme is Find your Flavor which coordinates with the Academy’s NNM theme Personalize your Plate.

Below are few tips to stay healthy holistically:

  1. Try culturally healthy recipes – which include ingredients like whole grains, fruits, veggies, beans, nuts & seeds, low fat dairy, and lean meat.
  1. Know your portion size – pay attention to what you are eating and don’t let gadgets and TV distract you. Enjoy every meal with mindfulness.
  2. Choose healthy snacks – combine healthy carbohydrates like whole-grain crackers, whole fruits, and colorful vegetables with healthy proteins and low-fat dairy.Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals.
  3. Know what you are eating – preparing food at home can be healthier since you are in control of how it is prepared. Preplan your meals and allow at least 30min/day to cook your food. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different cultural recipes and enjoy your palate.
  4. Eat more plant-based meals – current dietary guidelines of 2020-2025 suggest that eating more plant-based meals is overall healthy and nutritious for our mind and body. Whole grains, beans, lentils, soy, seitan, are all great substitutes instead of meat and can be cost-effective and better for your overall health. Initiate with one day as “Meatless Monday”.
  5. Drink plenty of water – 8 to 10 glasses of water is recommended by the Academy for a person on a 2000Kcal diet. Hydration is very important for your body and skin.
  6. Be Active – it has many health benefits. Start with 10 minutes at a time and build yourself up to 150 minutes/week for adults.
  7. Experiment with new healthy foods and flavors – to keep from getting bored with the same kind of foods, try different grains, vegetables, or fruits that you’re not used to. This will help add more nutrition and eating pleasure by varying your choices.

No change happens overnight. Therefore, take your time to create healthy habits. Everyone has to start from somewhere and it’s never too late. Therefore, take one or two goals at a time and hardwire them into your routine. Remember, this is a lifestyle change, so set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-oriented) such as portion control, routine physical exercise, and 6-8 hours of sleep each day. If possible, invite a friend or family member to go through this healthy journey with you as it will make life a little bit easier and will motivate you. Enjoy the new YOU once you experience all the positive outcomes of your holistic healthy lifestyle change!

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