The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The theme for this year is Get Your Plate in Shape, which highlights the five components of the new healthy eating icon, MyPlate.
- Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables: Consuming fruits and vegetables can help in the prevention of chronic diseases. The key to benefiting from all of the nutrients available in fruits and vegetables is to eat a variety of them. Think dark-green, red and orange vegetables; or red, green or purple fruits. Add fresh, dried, frozen or canned fruits to meals and snacks.
- Make at least half your grains whole: Read the ingredient listing on foods to make sure you are choosing 100 percent whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers and pasta. Switch from white to brown rice to incorporate more whole grains in your life.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk: For the same amount of calcium, vitamin A and D but much less fat and calories, choose fat free or low fat dairy products. If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.
- Choose lean protein: Choose leaner cuts of meat; include seafood twice a week and incorporate nuts in your meals. A variety of protein sources will keep your meals interesting and flavorful. Include vegetable proteins such as legumes, beans and soy.
- Limit empty calories from solid fats and added sugars: Choose healthy oils like olive oil and canola to cook with and limit use of solid fats like butter. Reduce the amount of added sugar in your meals, snacks and desserts. Choose fruit for dessert and drink water instead of sugary beverages.
- Reduce sodium: Use fresh or dried herbs and spices instead of salt to cut down on sodium intake. Remove the salt shaker from the table. Compare the sodium amounts in packaged foods and choose those with lower numbers.
- Enjoy your foods but eat less: A funny way to remember to watch your portions – never eat anything bigger than your face. Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Share an entrée and dessert when you eat out in order to eat less.
- Increase your physical activity: When you choose a physical activity that you enjoy, chances are you will do more of it. So engage in a physical activity of your liking: dance, work out, bike, run, walk, etc. Aim for at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity every week.
Start the month of March on a healthy note and begin by focusing on one of these goals. Slowly add more goals and Get Your Plate in Shape during National Nutrition Month!
For more information about National Nutrition Month visit http://www.eatright.org/nnm/ .