It's almost officially springtime, so of course there are lots of things going on. If you were reading my blog around this time last year, you already know that March is National Nutrition Month®! According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA) "National Nutrition Month® [NNM] is a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored annually by the American Dietetic Association." The main purpose of this campaign is to bring attention to the importance of making healthy, informed food choices and developing good eating habits. NNM is also used to bring awareness of and promote the 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.
You may remember (again from my blog last year!) that March also highlights "Registered Dietitian Day." This year, Wednesday March 10th has been designated Registered Dietitian Day. Per the ADA: "Registered Dietitian Day commemorates the dedication of RDs as advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world." To read more about credentialing and what RDs do, you can refer to my blog last spring.
As a registered dietitian and current member of the ADA, of course I want to help spread the word! This year's theme is "Nutrition From the Ground Up," meaning focus on the basics. Eat healthy by emphasizing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of proteins, and healthy fats. I know, that sounds like an old message, but it still holds true.
Try to get a variety of colors from your fruits and vegetables to ensure that you are getting not only different vitamins and minerals, but also a lot of phytonutrients that have additional health benefits. Try to get locally grown produce; it will taste better and retain more of its nutrients since it has not been sitting on a shelf for an extended period of time. I am a HUGE fan of CSAs (community supported agriculture) and farmer's markets. Not only is the produce more fresh, it tastes better too!
Whole grains are really high in fiber, and are a good source of complex carbohydrates, which are an excellent fuel source. Why do we always push fiber? It helps keep you full longer (so helps with weight management), keeps you "regular" which can help lower colon cancer risk, helps stabilize blood sugar, and helps lower cholesterol. Pretty good reasons!
We all need protein to help build muscle, make hormones, etc., but "lean" sources are emphasized to minimize fat, particularly saturated fat. This is important again for weight management, but also to lower the risk of increasing "bad" LDL cholesterol.
And of course we still need "healthy fats" that have a variety of uses in the body, including lowering our risk of heart disease, providing some insulation and cushioning of our joints, keeping us full, etc.