Healthy Eating: ‘Eat right, bite by bite’ – Monmouth Daily Review Atlas

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National Nutrition Month, celebrated every year in March, is a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite.” The goal through this theme is to focus on the importance of making educated food choices, form healthy eating habits and to develop sound physical activity practices. The National Nutrition Month campaign strives to be fun, accessible, optimistic, kid-friendly, and inclusive to all eating patterns and cultures.

To encompass their “Eat Right, Bite by Bite” theme, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics made a list of 20 health tips for 2020. Let’s discuss a few:

1. Eat breakfast

Starting your morning with a healthy breakfast can help fuel your body with energy, leads to better focus at school or work, prevents you from overeating later in the day, and can help in weight maintenance. Some healthy options for breakfast include whole-grain toast with peanut butter and banana slices, high-protein yogurt with berries and granola, or a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, low-fat cheese, salsa and a whole-wheat tortilla.

2. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

Fruits and veggies are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body needs. Strive for 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables as your daily goal. Use canned, frozen or fresh.

3. Drink more water

Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, especially if you are an active individual. Drinks with added sugars, such as soda, energy drinks, sweet tea, fruit-flavored drinks and more, can add empty calories, contribute to weight gain and provide little to no nutritional value. On average, a healthy adult needs one quart (4 cups) of water for every 50 pounds of body weight.

4. Dine out without ditching goals

A common misbelief is that you can’t eat out and be healthy. I’m here to tell you that’s not true! The key is to plan ahead, ask questions and choose foods carefully. Most menus have nutrition information (calories, protein, carbohydrates, etc.) so compare food choices you are considering. Lastly, look for healthier options that are grilled, baked, broiled or steamed.

5. Explore new foods and flavors

Don’t be afraid to expand your range of food choices! Try new seasonings, make a point to pick a new fruit or vegetable each time at the grocery store, and look for new recipes. One place to explore is Adding variety to your diet leads to greater nutrition and pleasure when eating.

These changes and goals may seem overwhelming to you as you read through them. Just know one small change can have significant impact on your health! Don’t go “cold turkey,” as they say, but consider progressing slowly, such as reducing the amount of added sugar to your tea from 3 teaspoons to 2 teaspoons. Or, reduce your portion size of ice cream from 2 cups to 1 1/2 cups. Making changes takes time – experts say it usually takes six to eight weeks to form a new habit.

One suggestion that I often give to clients is to have a good support system, someone who is going to keep you accountable, and maybe even make the changes with you! That way, you have someone who can encourage you along the way and hopefully lead to greater success. And remember the goal is to “Eat Right, Bite by Bite.”

Grace Emerson is a dietetic intern working with Chris Willis, a clinical dietitian/certified diabetes educator at OSF HealthCare St. Mary Medical Center in Galesburg.

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