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March is National Nutrition Month

Toni-Ann DiSantis

National Nutrition Month® (NNM) is a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored annually by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The campaign is designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. NNM also promotes ADA and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically based food and nutrition information.

Make Smart Choices From Every Food Group

Give your body the balanced nutrition it needs by eating a variety of nutrient-packed foods every day. Just be sure to stay within your daily calorie needs! A healthy eating plan:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.

Get the Most Nutrition Out of Your Calories

Choose the most nutritionally rich foods you can from each food group every day -- those packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients but lower in calories.

  • Focus on fruits. Eat a variety of fruits -- fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. For a 2,000 calorie diet, you need 2 cups of fruit each day.
  • Vary your veggies. Eat more orange and dark green vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and dark leafy greens. Include beans and peas such as pinto beans, kidney beans, split peas, and lentils more often.
  • Get your calcium-rich foods. Have 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk -- or an equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt and/or low-fat cheese every day (1 1⁄2 ounces of cheese equals 1 cup of milk). If you don’t or can’t consume milk, choose lactose-free milk products and/or calcium-fortified foods and beverages.
  • Make half your grains whole. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day. Look to see that grains such as wheat, rice, oats, or corn are referred to as “whole” in the list of ingredients.
  • Go lean with protein. Choose lean meats and poultry. Bake it, broil it, or grill it. And vary your protein choices with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.
  • Know the limits on fats, salt and sugars. Read the Nutrition Facts label on foods. Look for foods low in saturated fats and trans fats. Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little salt (sodium) and/or added sugars.

Find Your Balance Between Food and Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is important for your overall health and fitness -- plus it helps control body weight, promotes a feeling of well-being and reduces the risk of chronic diseases

Be physically active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
For even greater health benefits and to help control body weight, be physically active for about 60 minutes a day.
Children and teenagers should be physically active for 60 minutes every day, or most days.

Play It Safe With Foods

Prepare, handle, and store food properly to keep you and your family safe.

  • Clean hands, food-contact surfaces, fruits, and vegetables. To avoid speading bacteria to other foods, meat and poultry should not be washed or rinsed.
  • Separate raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, or storing.
  • Cook meat, poultry, and fish to safe internal temperatures to kill microorganisms.
  • Chill perishable foods promptly and thaw foods properly.

Nutrition Resources!

Check out the following resources for even more useful information on making the most of your daily food choices.

  • MyPyramid.gov - Personalized eating plans based on your caloric needs
  • Nutrition.gov - Information from the USDA on food and nutrition
  • SparkPeople.com Nutrition Resources - Lots of helpful tools and tips!
  • Tips for Cooking Faster and Healthier! - From PersonalBest.com
  • ADA Nutrition Fact Sheet: Whole Grains Made Easy
  • ADA Nutrition Fact Sheet: Get the Facts on Food Labels
  • ADA Nutrition Fact Sheet: Eating Better Together
  • USDA National Nutrient Database