March is National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is Go Further with Food. Whether it is as simple as eating breakfast every morning to prepare for a successful day at school or fueling your body for an athletic event, nutrition plays an important role in health and wellness.
Throughout the lifecycle, our needs change based on growth, maintenance or chronic conditions. Among children proper growth, learning and ability to focus as well as physical strength and agility can improve with proper nutrition. Pregnancy and lactation as well as menopause create physiological changes in the body and proper nutrition can have a great impact. The process of aging (body and brain) brings it’s own challenges. Most chronic illnesses impact the lifestyle significantly. Medical nutrition therapy can not only help manage a chronic illness but also improve the quality of life. No matter when you may need some help with nutrition, make sure you take it from the food and nutrition experts; Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RD or RDN). Many states (including NC) have licensure to protect the public from harm. So make sure those helping you with nutrition are actually licensed to do so. All registered dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.
Here are some suggestions for you to talk about nutrition with your family this month:
- Plan a weekly menu with each family member’s input. Each one has favorites and can have some of them (may be with a healthy twist) included in the week.
- Assign specific food preparation tasks to all family members. Children love to participate in meal preparations. Depending on the ages and abilities, set them up for success. If your teen can drive, give them a list of ingredients for their favorite meal, so they can shop for it. When they are a part of the process, they are more likely to try something new or different.
- Track the food waste for a week. Aim for none. Compost all food waste.
- Be creative with the leftovers. Incorporate them into other meals. You can make soup with leftover roasted vegetables, use cooked chicken to make chicken tacos, serve pork tenderloin slices on a salad or make a casserole with pasta and any leftover meats and veggies.
- Eat dinner as a family most nights. You get more than nutrition from eating together. There have been many studies that have shown the positive impacts of eating together. It generates conversation, communication and a connection with each other. After all, think of all the events in our life (happy and sad) and how they are always around meals.
We gather together around food to share life. You can go further with nutritious food! Commit to it.