Every March for the last 40 years, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates this important campaign in the hopes that more people focus their attention on making informed and healthy lifestyle choices. For those in therapy and R.N. jobs, rehabilitating patients following heart disease and stroke is a big part of your healthcare career; however, educating the general public and practicing good eating habits yourself may be the best medicine of all. “Eat Right Your Way, Every Day!” is this year’s National Nutrition Month theme, and opens the door to healthy creativity in the kitchen and beyond.
Optimal Nutrition Cheat Sheet
This is the healthcare professional’s cheat sheet to the most important points being made during National Nutrition Month. The following are tips gleaned from ChooseMyPlate.com, the nation’s authority on understanding the major food groups and developing your own personal eating plan.
- Half Your Plate Should Be Fruits and Veggies: The more colorful your plate the better! Choose vitamin and nutrient dense red, purple, green and orange veggies—and don’t forget that this can include beans and peas! If you’re using canned goods to represent this part of your plate, choose low-sodium or no salt added.
- For the 2000 Calorie Level, Here Are the Daily Serving Recommendations: 2 cups fruit, 2.5 cups vegetables, 6 oz grains, 5.5 oz protein foods, and 3 cups dairy
- Make at Least Half Your Grains Whole: That means when you butter your bread, make sure it’s 100% whole wheat. Your daily serving of wheat can include cereals, like shredded wheat or steel cut oats, whole grain pastas and brown rice. Read more on the benefits of brown rice by clicking on this Healthy Careers’ blog.
- Switch to Fat Free or Low Fat Milk: The calcium content is the same as it is in full-fat milk, so you aren’t missing anything but calories!
- Vary Your Protein Choices: Sources of healthy protein range from beans, to nuts, to lean cuts of meat, poultry and eggs. Healthcare professionals agree that the optimal choice regarding protein is to have fish at least twice a week.
- Think Like a Chef When it Comes to Reducing Sodium and Sugar Intake: Instead of reaching for the salt shaker when it’s time to season that healthy recipe, reach for a fresh herb, or a bottle from your spice rack. Rather than sautéing with a pat of butter, use extra virgin olive oil; cooking with oils is always preferred over using solid fats.
- Get Out There and Exercise “Your Way!” at Least 10 minutes a Day: You’ll be surprised at how this can add up! So long as an adult gets a cumulative 2 ½ hours of exercise per week, they are following guidelines set by MyPlate.
Healthy Careers Are Lean, Mean and Delicious!
It’s the perfect time of year to reevaluate the goals you made in January and stay on track throughout the year! Be sure to follow Healthy Careers for recipes that jive with everything a registered dietician approves of—and don’t forget to acknowledge their accomplishments on National Registered Dietician Day on March 13th. Share your healthy recipes, and build your plates as a testimony to lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions; address your health concerns by making the right individualized food choices. Do all that, and you are celebrating National Nutrition Month in the way you were meant to—lean, mean and delicious!