If you’ve ever looked into special holidays and observances you will know that there is one for practically every day of the year. Some are respected and traditional holidays while some are silly, strange, or well deserved. For example, in March there is St. Patrick’s Days but there’s also pi day (3/14), Corn Dog Day (3/23), and Registered
Dietitian Day (3/13).
Registered Dietitian Day is celebrated the second Wednesday in March to increase awareness of registered dietitians as the essential provider of food and nutrition services. It also recognizes dietitians for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives. This year is the 6th annual Registered Dietitian Day and it is actually part of a much bigger nutrition focus- National Nutrition Month.
March is National Nutrition Month and this year celebrates the 40th anniversary of focusing on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This year’s theme "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day" encourages personalized healthy eating styles taking into account factors that impact individual food choices such as: food preferences, lifestyle, cultural, ethnic traditions and health concerns. I like this year’s theme and the idea of eating “your way” as it:
Promotes flexibility with your food choices.
Recognizes that there is no right/wrong, good/bad, or perfect way to eat.
Advocates that you don’t have to deprive yourself of foods you enjoy.
Supports the fact that we all have unique tastes, traditions, and health concerns that influence our food choices.
Overall, it means trusting your body and becoming attuned to your needs so that ultimately you can become the expert of your own body. As part of national nutrition month here are some tips to help you become the expert of your own body:
Listen to your body: Learn to recognize and trust your own internal hunger and fullness cues. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are comfortably full. It sounds so simple, yet many people don't do this. By recognizing and responding to your hunger and fullness cues your body will naturally get all the nutrition it needs and move to a weight that is right for you. Most diets teach you to disconnect from you body and tell you to eat only when it is time. When you become the expert of your own body you learn to let go of all the dieting rules and trust yourself to know what is best for you. Learn to become attuned to your internal cues and what makes you feel best by listening to your body.
Eat a Balanced diet: Eat foods from all the different food groups (including grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy and fat). Each food group offers different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that when eaten in combination help to provide the body with the nutrition that it needs. Eliminating entire food groups also eliminates specific nutrients that each food group provides. Overtime this can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Enjoy a Variety of foods: Eat a variety of foods by choosing different foods within each food group. By providing variety within each food group you are not only increasing your exposure to different vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, you are also adding color, flavor, texture, and shape. Eating the same foods over and over or eating the same thing every day reduces your exposure to different vitamins and minerals. Additionally variety helps to minimize your exposure to foods that may be less healthful or harmful, and variety increases satisfaction.
Use Moderation: Eat moderate portions of food throughout your day. Essentially moderation is avoiding extremes meaning not too much or not too little. Know that it is normal to have more on some days, less on other days, and that some days you may have a lot of chocolate- and it really is okay.
Discover Satisfaction: Satisfaction with your diet is really important! Having a healthy diet does not mean that you cannot enjoy your favorite foods. By including balance, variety, and moderation in your diet you can eat the foods you enjoy and feel satisfied. Research suggests that when people are satisfied with their diet they eat less, have less cravings, have a clear signal of when they are done eating, and experience a sense of comfort both physically and emotionally that they are practicing good self-care. (When was the last time you felt that way after eating?)
With that in mind- Happy National Nutrition Month!