March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.”
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health, there are a few key strategies you can use to help develop healthful eating habits. Check out these tips from our outpatient nutrition services team in Richmond, VA.
Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day
Not only does eating variety help prevent boredom and dissatisfaction with food, it also helps provide your body with all the big and little nutrients needed to support good health.
- Try new flavors and foods. There is literally a world of options to explore. Get inspired by cuisines from different countries or just take a look around the grocery store to find new foods and seasonings to sample. Fruits and vegetables are a great place to start – not only are they all very healthy for you, but you are sure to find one or two you’ve never tried before such as dragon fruit, jicama, figs, kumquats, okra, daikon, spaghetti squash and many more.
- Learn how to modify recipes so that they fit your health needs. Recipes offer a lot of inspiration but are not always healthy as written. Substitute, reduce or eliminate ingredients that do not meet your health needs and add missing food groups to round out the meal.
Plan your meals and snacks
Planning ahead helps us achieve our healthy eating goals by helping us see in advance what we need to achieve our goals. This includes knowing what foods we need to purchase and how to work around things that might get in our way, such as busy schedules.
- Choose healthful recipes to make during the week. Be realistic about how much time you can and want to put into cooking to help narrow your search. Consider using recipes with some overlapping ingredients to help with budget and prevention of food waste. For example, if you only need one half of a bell pepper for one recipe plan a way to incorporate the other half into another meal or snack that week.
- Use a grocery list to shop for healthful ingredients. There are ways to save time and money while still eating healthfully if those are priorities for you. For example, low sodium and no salt added canned or frozen goods are affordable and convenient, pre-cut washed produce as well as steam-in-bag whole grains and vegetables save time and clean-up without sacrificing nutrition.
Take the time to savor and enjoy your food
When we rush through our meals or eat while doing other things, we are less likely to be satisfied by our food. Being satisfied by our food involves both mental satisfaction (how it tastes and if it brings us joy) as well as physical satisfaction (did it fill you up just the right amount? Too little? Too much?)
You might find not only does this way of eating help you be more satisfied on smaller portions, it can also help with digestion.
- Avoid distractions while eating. Remove any factors that will compete for your attention (like TV, driving, working) so you can engage all five of your senses fully into experiencing your food. Notice how it looks, smells, tastes and feels. Some foods even can transport you to a different place and time – like your grandmother’s kitchen or your trip abroad – if you let it.
- Take the time to enjoy your food. Slow down. Pause between bites. Use smaller plates, bowls and utensils to help encourage smaller bites.
Now that you’ve got the roadmap, we are challenging you to Celebrate National Nutrition Month!
Here’s the challenge: Plan at least one meal each week in March that includes a new food item or a new recipe and then take the time to slow down and enjoy eating it!
“Eating for your health is not about giving up everything you love forever or sacrificing flavor. In fact, eating for your health can be an opportunity to try new foods and flavors while making choices that will help you feel better both physically and emotionally,” shares Whitney Voorhees, a registered dietitian nutritionist & certified diabetes care and education specialist. “A common misconception is that a registered dietitian is going to tell you all about what you can’t eat, when in fact my favorite thing to do is help you figure out how to cultivate a way of eating that meets your health goals and includes foods you enjoy at the same time!”
Learn more about the outpatient nutrition services we offer at Bon Secours.