Mark A. Mahoney
National Nutrition Month which began in 1980 is celebrated in March and stresses the importance of a balanced diet and exercise. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes the transformative powers of healthy food choices.
The Academy encourages using a registered dietitian in order to develop and stick with a healthy eating plan. The 2022 theme, Celebrate a World of Flavors, embraces global cultures, cuisines and inclusion, plus showcases the expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists.
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Here are five realistic ways to eat healthier this month:
1. Go, go, H2O!
We all know drinking water helps in nearly every aspect of wellness, but drinking the recommended amount of water per day can be tough. Electrolyte additives offer the same, if not better benefits than drinking six or more glasses of water a day would.
2. Choose food over supplements
Though there are some who lack certain vitamins and minerals that can’t be achieved through diet alone, most of the good things our bodies need come from food — not store-bought supplements. Research shows that certain supplements haven’t been tested to meet many purity and safety standards, making them unreliable sources of nutrition.
3. Opt for color
When in doubt, throw some color on your plate — natural color, that is. Bright greens from crunchy vegetables or vibrant reds from tangy fruit will not only make your meal Instagram-worthy, they’ll give you a healthy boost.
4. Pack your lunch
Avoiding typical restaurant or fast-food grease may seem obvious, but according to Harvard Health Publishing, even more important than that is the ability to control portion sizes when you pack your own lunch.
5. Shop the perimeter
Shopping a supermarket’s outside aisles ensures that you’re getting healthy alternatives like produce, meat, and dairy instead of processed foods. When you move inward, most, if not all, of the products contain unnecessary additives and sugar.
The following steps are recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson, registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) Caroline Susie, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Reduce added sugars
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugars to less than 10% of daily calories for those 2 years and older and to avoid serving foods and beverages with added sugars to children younger than 2.
- “Eat snacks with no added sugars. For example, flavor your low-fat plain yogurt with fresh fruit instead of purchasing flavored yogurt”
- “Enjoy a cup of herbal tea without added sweeteners or fresh fruit as a post-dinner treat”
- Drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages by drinking water flavored with fruit.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day and less for children under 14.
- “Use the Nutrition Facts label to compare sodium content of foods and purchase products with less sodium.”
- Rinse canned foods or select those with no salt added.
- Buy fresh poultry, seafood, lean cuts of red meat and pork rather than processed meat and poultry.
- “Flavor foods with citrus, herbs and spices instead of salt.”
Decrease saturated fats
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting consumption of saturated fat starting at age 2 to less than 10% of calories per day and replacing it with healthier unsaturated fats.
- Use vegetable oils in place of solid fats when cooking.
- “Eat foods that are natural sources of unsaturated fats including unsalted nuts, seeds and fatty fish such as salmon.”
- Select lean cuts of meat or skinless poultry.
- “Use oil-based dressing instead of creamy-based dressing on salads.”
As we begin March and the start of National Nutrition Month, make the decision to press restart and make the commitment to restart and/or continue those healthy lifestyle practices that can lead to a better quality of life through taking proactive decisions to access evidence-based knowledge and following best practices.
Thanks to the National Today website as well as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website for the content provided in this column.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 report can be accessed at
Representing more than 112,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.
Go to the Academy’s website for a good overall resource base at eatright.org.
Mark A. Mahoney, Ph.D. has been a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for over 35 years and completed graduate studies in Nutrition & Public Health at Columbia University. He can be reached at [email protected]
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