‘PERSONALIZE YOUR PLATE’… THIS YEAR’S THEME FOR NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH.
March is National Nutrition Month. Each year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) launches a campaign to promote healthy eating. The theme for 2021, Personalize Your Plate, is aimed at meeting your individual goals and needs. Everyone is unique, and each of us has different work, and lifestyle schedules, as well as cultural preferences. Some of us are not only working from home but also trying to manage toddlers or help children with remote learning. As a result, our routines are different and schedules have changed. Many of us find we’re snacking more and have less time to cook. Consequently, finding a way to personalize our plate is needed now more than ever.
NUTRITION IS NOT ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL
Nutrition is not one-size-fits-all, however, when we personalize our plate some things should remain consistent:
-Incorporate foods from all nutrient groups. Include carbohydrates, protein, and fat in your diet.
-Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
-Follow basic food safety.
-Keep healthy snacks and ingredients on hand.
-Take time to enjoy your food.
7 TIPS TO PERSONALIZE YOUR PLATE
1. DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST.We have long been advised that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It breaks-the-fast and gets the day started. Research suggests that skipping breakfast may influence energy expenditure and reduce endurance.
Evidence also supports that eating breakfast daily may improve cognitive function, and result in better school performance and attendance by children.
In an observational study, children and adolescents who skipped breakfast were 43% more likely to develop obesity.
Even if you are rushed in the morning, start with a healthy breakfast. Some quick fixes include instant oatmeal, low-fat yogurt, or fruit and whole-grain cereal. Or make a smoothie with fruit or veggies and low-fat milk. Don’t be afraid to eat non-breakfast foods. Include leftovers from last night’s dinner on some busy mornings.
2. KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS AVAILABLE.
Snacking can play an important role in contributing to the nutrient content of your diet. In other words, snacking on almonds and walnuts provide vitamin E, healthy antioxidants, and fiber. Excess snacking or poor snack choices, however, can lead to unwanted weight gain. Keep portions moderate and avoid mindless eating, or snacking without thinking about it.
Keep snacks healthy. Despite your schedule, simply stocking up on bags of baby carrots, or celery sticks can serve as easy-to-grab snacks and smart between-meal munchies. Other ideas include cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, or sugar snap peas. Choose hummus in place of high- fat dips. Lightly buttered popcorn, apple slices, grapes, and clementines are other good and easy-to-eat choices.
3. SIMPLIFY MEAL PLANNING BY MAKING A WEEKLY MENU AND GROCERY LIST.
Planning your meals ahead of time allows you to ensure a more balanced menu and include all nutrient groups. It also encourages you to try new recipes and different foods.
Having a planned menu allows for fewer trips to the grocery store, saving both time and money. With all the ingredients on hand, meal prep is easier and less stressful and helps to avoid last-minute decisions to get unhealthy take-out or fast food. Including the kids in meal planning is also a good way to promote good nutrition and encourage acceptance of a balanced diet.
4. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS.
Hydration is so important for all of our bodily functions. We must take in adequate amounts to offset that which is lost naturally through our skin, urine, and breathing.
Water is the best choice. Make it more appealing by flavoring it with fruit slices. Fill a pitcher to keep in the refrigerator making it easily available. Avoid buying sugary drinks and sodas.
If you nd drinking water is difficult to do, spread it out. Keep a glass of water by your computer or a bottle in your car to sip from it throughout the day. Make it a point to have a drink with each meal and snack.
Drinking 8 ounces of water, 8 times per day is the gold standard and adequate for most healthy adults. However, exceptions such as strenuous exercise and warm weather can increase our needs. Additionally, some health conditions may decrease our needs. Check with your health professional if you are unsure.
5. FOLLOW BASIC FOOD SAFETY
Anyone can get food poisoning. This can be the result of improperly cared for food items or germs from unwashed hands. Follow these Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to keep food safe and reduce your risk of illness.
-Avoid eating raw or undercooked foods.
-Always wash your hands before and after preparing food.
-Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
-Use a separate plate for raw and cooked meat and a separate cutting board for meat and vegetables.
-Don’t eat raw batter or cookie dough.
-Always thaw food in the refrigerator or under cold running water.
-Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible.
6. AVOID MINDLESS EATING
No matter what your schedule is, take time to enjoy your food. Avoid eating at your computer or standing at the sink. This mindless eating often leads to overeating. Putting aside even 10 minutes to sit and enjoy your meal can leave you feeling full and more satisfied. It also gives you a chance to change your focus away from your work, relieving stress and providing a needed mental break.
7. CONSULT A REGISTERED DIETITIAN TO HELP ‘PERSONALIZE YOUR PLATE’.
Whether you want to lose weight, improve your health, or manage a new illness, why not consult an expert!
Our experienced Registered Dietitians can help personalize your plate with a diet plan or new way of eating, that’s easy to follow and fits your schedule and lifestyle. They are ready to meet with you virtually via telehealth.
Some of our services are covered by insurance. Call today to nd out how our clinicians can help meet all your nutrition needs. Phone number: (240) 449-3094