Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) encourages Michiganders to renew their appreciation of healthy eating through National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme, “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day,” emphasizes the inclusion of foods people already enjoy as part of an overall healthy eating plan.
A common misperception is that eating healthfully means giving up favorite foods. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, in 2011, 82 percent of U.S. adults cited not wanting to give up foods they like as a reason for not eating healthier. However, the most important focus of healthy eating is the total diet, rather than any one food or meal. All foods can fit within the overall plan when enjoyed in moderation and combined with physical activity.
Tips for Eating Right, Your Way, Every Day:
On-the-Job. Busy work days and business travel can lead to on-the-fly meals.
- For desktop dining, keep single-serve packages of crackers, fruit, peanut butter, low-sodium soup or canned tuna in your desk.
- On the go? Tuck portable, nonperishable foods in a purse, briefcase or backpack for a meal on the run. Try granola bars, peanut butter and crackers, fresh fruit, trail mix or single-serve packages of whole-grain cereal or crackers.
Students. The student lifestyle can be fast-paced and low-budget but that doesn’t mean sacrificing health for low costs. Stock snacks that combine protein and carbohydrates such as:
- Apples with peanut butter, carrots and hummus, hardboiled eggs and fruit, banana and yogurt, almonds with low-fat cheese or whole-grain cereal. These also double as a quick grab-and-go breakfast to wake up the brain and muscles for the day’s activities.
- At the cafeteria, salad bars are a great choice, but go easy on the cheese, bacon, creamy dressings and other high-calorie add-ons. Follow the national MyPlate guidelines, found at www.choosemyplate.gov, and make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Families. Caring for and feeding a family can be a handful. However, family meals allow parents to be role models to promote healthy eating. And, just because a meal is made quickly doesn’t mean it can’t be nutritious.
- Keep things simple. Build a collection of recipes for quick and easy family favorites. Choose ingredients that you can use for more than one meal. For example, cook extra grilled chicken for chicken salad or fajitas the next day.
- Ask for help. Get the kids involved making a salad, setting the table or other simple tasks.
- Additionally, the Michigan WIC Special Supplemental Nutrition Program also supports National Nutrition Month by providing supplemental food, nutrition education and counseling, and referrals to low and moderate income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5.
To learn more about enrolling in WIC, call 1-800-26-BIRTH, or “211” to find a local WIC clinic. Visit the WIC website for more information at www.michigan.gov/wic. For more tips about eating right and eating healthy, visit the Academy’s National Nutrition Month website online at www.eatright.org/nnm/handoutsandtipsheets.