March means Nutrition Awareness Month

 

The month of March is also known as National Nutrition Month. This is an annual information campaign initiated by the American Dietetic Association used to stress the importance of making healthy food and physical activity choices every day.

National Nutrition Month was first started in March 1973 as National Nutrition Week, but soon became a month-long celebration as the general public became more interested in the effects of their eating and activity habits.

The ADA provides multiple resources to the public offering new ideas on how to make these informed food choices. There is a resource for people of all ages – young kids, moms on the go, college students, the elderly – you name it. The ADA hopes to show that proper nutrition is vital at every age, individualizing programs and ideas to each age group.

Themes from past years include “Say Yes To Less (Less Fat, Less Salt, Less Sugar) Juggle The Foods You Eat” (1983), “Nutrition Fuels Fitness” (1994), “All Foods Can Fit” (1997), and “Step Up To Nutrition and Health” (2006). This year’s theme is “Eat Right With Color.” This theme highlights the fact that bright, colorful foods are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.

Nutrients provide our body with energy, essential vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants are substances in foods that help protect our cells from damage. Damaged cells could lead to cancer and heart disease and accelerate the aging process. Think of both of these substances as the internal armor that your body uses to fight off these diseases and to fuel a long, healthy life. Filling your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables is the easiest way to jumpstart a healthier diet.

Examples of nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables include strawberries, pomegranates, cranberries, tomatoes (red group); oranges, carrots, peppers (orange group); squash, bananas, pineapple (yellow group); spinach, avocado, pears, broccoli (green group); and grapes, blueberries, plums, and eggplants (blue/purple group). Each color category offers different nutrients, so making an effort to include foods from each of these categories throughout the day will ensure that you are receiving a balanced amount of nutrients.

It may seem overwhelming, but it is easier than you think to fit these foods into your daily meal plan. Here are a few ideas on how to add these foods into each meal.

Breakfast: add fruit to a yogurt and granola parfait, top cereal or oatmeal with fresh berries, or make a fruit and yogurt smoothie.

Lunch: create a stir-fry with bell peppers, broccoli, mushrooms and carrots, or top a pizza with spinach and tomatoes.

Dinner: pair your favorite meat with sautéed green beans or a side salad, or try an eggplant lasagna.

As the month of March has just arrived, use these next four weeks to experiment with different fruits and vegetables. Create your own recipes or go to the ADA website at eatright.org and view their resources to gain ideas on how to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle.

 

Fast Facts

Natural Nutrition Month began in March 1973

This year’s theme is “Eat Right With Color”

Colorful fruits and vegetables have nutrients and antioxidants

 

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