With National Nutrition Month coming up in March, it is time again for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to educate Americans on how to adopt healthy eating in their daily lives. This year’s theme focuses on how to combine taste and nutrition to create healthy meals that follow the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Academy President Dr. Glenna McCollum says, “Taste is the most influential factor in the selection of foods a person eats, so it is important that there is a balance in the taste and the nutrition that comes with that. The both are not mutually exclusive.” McCollum encourages Americans to return to the basics and eat wholesome foods. To Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Angela Ginn, returning to the basics means much more than eating wholesome foods only. “Studies have shown that family meals promote healthier eating, with more vegetables, fruits and fiber, less processed foods and even fewer calories. Returning to the basics also means returning to the dining table to have a family dinner,” she says, while also realizing that returning to the family dining table may also have an indirect positive effect. “Not only is a family preparing the meal itself, it also offers time to talk and build family relationships. Parents have a chance to be great role models for healthy eating.”
McCollum says there are plenty of ways to adopt healthy eating, but even though it is becoming more popular, many Americans do not know how and with National Nutrition Month coming up, she is eager to give some tips. Sandwiches are still a favorite for Americans, but many still do not follow any dietary guidelines. McCollum says there are easy ways to make a sandwich healthier, for example by swapping white bread for whole grain and by substituting mayo for avocado. In addition, sandwiches should always contain vegetables such as tomatoes or cucumber. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans; however, has some advice that may put a smile on some faces. According to McCollum, it is not a must to skip dessert, as this is seen as a sacrifice that will not make a sustainable change. To keep a balance in eating desserts, people may opt for a fruit dessert rather than the slice of chocolate cake, which is high in fat and sugar.
This year’s focus of National Nutrition Month, combining taste and nutrition, is not that difficult according to dietitian nutritionists. Nutritional meals that may seem bland in taste, can be flavored by adding fresh herbs and spices, something that McCollum says is not used enough in the U.S. “It is a great way to add flavor and nutrition without adding fat, sugar or salt,” she said.
The National Nutrition Month started off as a week-event in 1973, but was prolonged to a month in 1980 in response to the growing public interest of how to adopt healthy eating. With the annual event coming up in only two days, the Academy’s National Nutrition Month website is filled with tips, games, tools and educational resources to spread the message of healthy eating in the U.S.
By Diana Herst