This March, it’s time to take charge of your health by celebrating National Nutrition Month! This month-long campaign is designed to help people create healthy eating and physical activity habits.
Nutrition is incredibly important to keep your body moving and operating efficiently. Have you ever hit a 2pm lull and thought ‘a soda will help?’ While caffeine (in small doses) is okay, there are better ways to give your body an energy boost. Improving your diet and choosing healthier options can actually give you more energy throughout the day than relying on caffeine or other supplements.
What is National Nutrition Month?
In March 1973, the American Dietetic Association (now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) initiated National Nutrition Week to “deliver nutrition education messages to the public while promoting the profession of dietetics.” Due to popular demand and public interest, in 1980, the week-long effort turned into a month-long initiative.
According to the Academy, the initiative’s purpose is “to increase the public's awareness of the importance of good nutrition and position Academy members as the authorities in nutrition.” Furthermore, focusing on making healthy food choices and increasing physical activity can benefit your health while also reducing your risk for preventable diseases and conditions.
3 Ways to Improve Your Health
There are many different ways to boost your health this March. Below, we highlight 3 things you can do this month (and the rest of the year!) to create healthy habits centered around physical activity and mindful eating.
1. Consume fewer empty calories
The average daily caloric intake can range from 2,000-2,500 calories, but according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, those numbers vary greatly depending on many factors such as age, height, weight, and activity levels. When planning your daily meals, consider cutting down on empty calories (food containing no nutrients). To cut down on empty calories, reduce your sodium intake and avoid eating foods with added sugars and saturated fats. Instead, eat foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. These types of food sources are nutrient-dense which will help to keep your body moving and operating efficiently throughout the day.
2. Get your daily exercise
Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine can reduce heart disease and other chronic diseases. There are many different (and fun!) ways you can include exercise in your lifestyle, such as trying a new class at your local fitness club, working out with a friend, or exploring a new location like a park or trail. Speak with your provider about ways you can start adding exercise into your lifestyle.
3. Make informed food choices
Fast food and dining out have become increasingly popular over the years, but they can make it more difficult to make good choices when it comes to the food you’re eating. Instead, try to prepare your own food at home whenever possible. When grocery shopping, check the nutrition label of the foods you’re buying, and if you’re planning on dining out, look up the menu online beforehand. Knowing what’s in the food you’re eating is a great step towards selecting the right options for your health.
Easy, Healthy Food Options to Add to Your Diet
There are plenty of healthy—and delicious—foods that you can start including in your diet to make changes for the better. Vegetables help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, while fruits are full of vitamins and water. Fruits also tend to be low in sodium, calories, and contain no cholesterol. Lean meats offer the macronutrients your body needs, and dairy provides a good source of calcium.
Everything you eat and drink affects your health. Below we list some great food options to incorporate in your diet.
- Dark greens (arugula, bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, lettuce, endive)
- Red and orange vegetables (acorn squash, butternut squash, carrots, pumpkin, red peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes)
- Legumes (kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, edamame, garbanzo beans, split peas, lentils)
- Whole wheat
- Whole oats/oatmeal
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, lychees, mangoes, cherries)
- Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, grapes, açai, goji berries)
- Pome fruits (apples, pears, quince)
- Melons (watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, horned melon)
- Natural cheese without artificial dyes or coloring
For additional information on building a healthy eating pattern, take a look at the USDA’s MyPlate guide.
Schedule Your Annual Checkup
At Voyage Healthcare, we recognize that finding a healthy diet that works with your preferences, lifestyle, and health conditions can sometimes be challenging. Celebrate National Nutrition Month by scheduling an appointment with your primary care doctor to discuss your nutrition plan.
Unsure about what diet and nutrition questions to ask your provider? Cut the confusion with our downloadable guide!