EAT WELL TO BE WELL: Put your best fork forward

March is National Nutrition Month

Each year during the month of March the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Put your best fork forward.” Eating healthier doesn’t mean changing your entire eating plan overnight. Small changes, made over time, can add up. For National Nutrition Month the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics urges everyone to start small – one forkful at a time by putting your best fork forward.

Initiated in 1973 as National Nutrition Week, this public education campaign became a month-long observance in 1980 as people began to show a growing interest in nutrition

There is no one diet that is right for everyone as each of us is unique in our own individual nutrition and dietary needs. Therefore it is important to follow a healthful eating plan that’s packed with tasty foods and that keeps your unique lifestyle in mind.

“I encourage everyone to eat healthy foods each and every day. This is one of the best natural medicines we have available to us and we should take advantage of it,” stated Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “The more we pay attention to how we feed our body, the more we gain in nutritional health making it more likely to avoid chronic disease.”

There are many ways all of us can be reminded on how to get started making healthier food choices. Here are some ideas of health tips to dedicate yourself to a healthy lifestyle with these food, nutrition, and physical activity tips:

• Eat Breakfast

Start your morning with a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Try making a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, low-fat cheese, salsa and a whole wheat tortilla or a parfait with low-fat plain yogurt, fruit, and whole grain cereal.

• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables add color, flavor, and texture plus vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your plate. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal. Experiment with different types, including fresh, frozen and canned.
“Every day I make it a point to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Samadi. “Whether you choose fresh, frozen or even canned, they all contribute to providing important nutrients we need to keep us healthy.”

• Watch portion sizes

Get out measuring cups and see how close your portions are to the recommended serving size. Use half your plate for fruits and vegetables and the other half for grains and lean protein foods. To complete the meal, add a serving of fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt.

• Be active

Regular physical activity has so many health benefits. Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time. Children and teens should get 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day and adults should get two hours and 30 minutes per week. You don’t have to hit the gym – take a walk after dinner or play a game of catch or basketball.

• Fix healthy snacks

Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals, especially when they include a combination of foods. Choose from two or more of the MyPlate food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and protein. Try raw veggies with low-fat cottage cheese, or a tablespoon of peanut butter with an apple or banana.

• Get cooking

Preparing foods at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective. Resolve to learn some cooking and kitchen basics, like how to dice an onion or cook dried beans. The collection of “How do I….” videos at www.eatright.org/howdoi will get you started.

• Drink more water

Quench your thirst by drinking water instead of sugary drinks.

“Learning to choose water first when thirsty is one of the most basic lessons we should use early in life,” exclaimed Dr. Samadi. “Water is the very best fluid for keeping us hydrated. Consider the fact that water makes up more than half of your body weight, and a person can’t survive more than a few days without it. Yes, other beverages do contain water but drinking just plain water is the best way to go without any sugar or additives. If you like some flavor to your water, add in some lemon juice, or slices of lemon, oranges or limes.”

These are just a few of the important messages National Nutrition Month this year has to offer. The focus is meant to emphasize that how much we eat is as important as what we eat. This year’s theme wants to inspire the public to start with small changes to eating habits that can over time, turn into major positive health benefits in the long run.

A registered dietitian is the expert in human nutrition who can help you develop a personal eating plan that fits your unique lifestyle needs and taste. To find an RD in your area, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at www.eatright.org. Every day dietitians encourage everyone to eat right your way.

Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City, an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, Ks where she teaches Basic Nutrition, and is a blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi and www.nutroutine.com, an online market place connecting nutrition experts with customers worldwide. View her website at www.eatwell2bewellrd.com and she can be contacted at cmussatto@hotmail.com.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News channel’s Medical A-Team and Sunday Housecall and is the chief medical correspondent for AM 970 in New York City, where he is heard Sundays at 10 a.m. www.samadimd.com

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