The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ theme for March’s National Nutrition Month is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every day”. This is most appropriate since we know that all foods can fit, but also reminds us to honor cultural and ethnic traditions, specific diets for personal health conditions, and emphasizes the philosophy that one plan does not fit all.
So what exactly does “Eat Right, Your Way, Every day” mean to you? How do you know how to “eat right”? What is “your way”? and can you put it all together “everyday”? We’ll break it down here for you and before you know it you’ll be chanting the mantra in your head. If eating right feels this good, you won’t want to be wrong.
First, let’s clarify. Technically there is no “right” and “wrong” choices when it comes to food, but there are definitely “beneficial”, more “nutritious” or maybe even more “appropriate” choices. The key points here are to:
• Keep the portions small
• Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
• Keep the fat to a minimum and choose heart healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocado
If you are a numbers, quantity, and calorie person, a registered dietitian can help calculate specific macronutrient needs and steer you in the right direction based on your individual needs. You can also download various apps or go to www.eatright.org or www.myplate.gov to find out more on serving sizes, what a typical meal/plate should look like, recipes ideas, and menu suggestions.
Your eating pattern, preferences, and habits are as unique as you are. Make it what you want it to be but break away from the negative voices or engrained thoughts that are self-defeating, unrealistic, or unhealthy. Do you love your tamal, fajita or naan, and curry laden roots? What about your crepe and croissant Sunday brunches, or your pesto pasta and manicotti mainstays? Honor your preferences, but also challenge yourself to make something a bit healthier, try something new, or maybe just make those decadent dishes less often.
Do you eat three squares a day, are you a grazer, a sharer, or do you have five or six mini meals? There is not one set standard for a meal pattern, but research has shown that when we keep that metabolic fire steadily burning with healthy fuel we tend to be more efficient in burning calories and less likely to gain weight or overindulge. Being consistent with intake helps keep blood glucose levels regulated and staves off the negative effects of yo-yo dieting. Keep meals consistent, include all food groups, remember small portions and make it pleasurable for your tastes and needs.
Every day is a new day and the choices that you make on a daily basis will add up to big changes in your health. This does not mean that you must make perfect choices all day, every day. It simply means that if you make the effort to incorporate these things in your life on a daily basis, they will become habit. Before you know it, they simply will be part of your lifestyle and you can enjoy all the other things that you have to do with zest and new found energy.
Enjoy March, may it spring forth a new and improved you!