Health: Eat well – March is National Nutrition Month

By Judy Mattingly/Accreditation Coordinator, Published:

Proper nutrition is of the utmost importance all year long, but March is designated as National Nutrition Month. The annual March campaign is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

This is the 40th anniversary of National Nutrition Month and the theme for 2013 is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” National Nutrition Week first began in 1973 and National Nutrition Month was inaugurated in 1980. This year’s theme encourages personalized healthy eating styles and recognizes that food preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions and health concerns all impact individual food choices.

The sixth annual Registered Dietitian Day was March 13. On this day registered dietitians are thanked for their dedication and for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world. Registered dietitians help people enjoy healthy lives and are valuable and credible sources of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information.

According to the American Dietetics Association’s Nutrition and You: Trends 2011 survey, half of all U.S. adults believe they are doing all they can to achieve balanced nutrition and a healthy diet. This is in contradiction to health indicators such as obesity rates showing two-thirds of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. Poor nutrition impacts more than your waistline, contributing to heart disease, certain forms of cancer, stroke and diabetes.

Debbie Bell, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator at the Franklin County Health Department, recognizes that changing your diet is difficult and recommends enjoying your favorite foods in moderation.

“Portion sizes have dramatically increased over the years,” she said. “A serving of protein or meat should only be the size of the palm of your hand or two-three ounces.” Bell also pointed out that “at least five servings of fruits and vegetables should be consumed every day.”

The good news is that the ADA 2011 survey revealed that respondents had increased their consumption of vegetables, whole-grain goods, fish and chicken. It was also found that consumption of beef, pork and dairy had decreased. These reductions may reflect a decrease in saturated fat; however, decreasing dairy consumption also lowers calcium and vitamin D intake.

Understanding nutrition can often be complicated with sometimes conflicting information coming from a variety of sources. On the 2011 ADA survey television was indicated as the most popular source of information followed by magazines and the Internet. Convenience is the major reason for the popularity of the sources.

FCHD offers medical nutrition therapy services for weight and cholesterol management, diabetes control and renal disease. Call 564-7647 to schedule your appointment with a registered dietician. You can also visit www.eatright.org for helpful tips, games and nutrition education resources.

Nutrition tip sheets include ways to enjoy more fruits and vegetables, healthy snacks for kids, color your plate with salad, eating right for a healthy weight, eating right for older adults, eating right on a budget and everyday eating for a healthier you.

Judy Mattingly holds the Master of Arts in Health Communication degree and is accreditation coordinator at the Franklin County Health Department, 851 East-West Connector.

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