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  • Writer's pictureSophia Kamveris, MS, RDN

National Nutrition Month Madness

Updated: Mar 11


For the sports enthusiast, March is filled with lots of college basketball games. For dietitians, it’s recognized as National Nutrition Month—a month long promotion to teach people how essential good nutrition and eating patterns are to our health and well-being. Making small changes during this month helps to improve health now—and into the future. 


While some people don’t mind eating the same things everyday, it’s important to get variety in your diet. Kind of like the change of seasons that we all look forward to. I get asked to do meal plans all the time. “Just tell me what to eat” is the common request. I can understand how much easier it is to wake up to a spreadsheet everyday, but it’s not how I roll. Number one, there’s no way that I know all of the things a person likes to eat to be able to accommodate their preferences. But most importantly, it’s not the most sensible way to approach developing healthier eating patterns. Overly restricting or depriving yourself of your favorite foods, or relying on others to do the work for you is never going to work over the long term. Chances are you will tire of the plan and revert back to your previous eating patterns.


I do get it. You need help. And that’s where working with a registered dietitian will offer you the support and comfort you need to get you through the journey. If you insist on using apps or Google, make sure you the resources are reliable and based on solid, medical studies. The My Plate food model (www.myplate.gov) is one such reference—it encourages you to make half of your serving plate fruits and vegetables, and to use whole grains and lean proteins on the other half. They also offer a personalized menu plan to better meet you own needs if you want to check it out. www.myplate.gov/myplate-plan 


Here are some other suggestions to make the transition to healthier eating a little easier:


  • Be creative by swapping out different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods when preparing recipes.

  • To add some pizazz to your meals, include different colored vegetables on your plate throughout the week. Vegetables are full of anti-oxidants. But even the palest of veggies, like onions and garlic, do good stuff for your body! 

  • Keep frozen vegetable in your freezer. They are easy to toss into soups or stir-fries and are just as nutrient dense as fresh—sometimes even richer than fresh (depends on how long they have been in storage or in transport).

  • Pack a variety of different fruits as snacks and don’t be afraid of dried fruits—they are still high in fiber and are easy to toss in a bag to take the edge off of the stomach growls. 

  • Enjoy fruit in place of sweets for dessert after dinner. Diced strawberries or baked peach slices with a dollop of (real) whipped cream is yummy!

  • Try preparing a whole grain that is new to you, such as brown rice instead of white. Or farro instead of couscous, which is really a form of pasta.

  • Switch to whole grain bread or wrap for sandwiches. Look for the first ingredient on the label as “whole wheat” versus “enriched.”

  • Look for cereals and snacks that use whole grain flours. Multi-grain doesn’t necessarily ensure its nutrition content. 

  • Experiment with seafood by grilling or baking fish in place of higher fat (some red meat cuts or pork sausages) protein food for dinner two times per week.

  • Try sweetening plain low-fat yogurt with different types of fruits or chia seeds. A little bit of honey or pure maple syrup drizzled on top is okay. I also add some chopped walnuts. 

  • Enjoy a healthy snack of raw veggies with dips made from low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese. Sliced cucumber coins with a dollop of mango salsa adds crunch and sweetness to a snack. 

  • Plan meals with servings from all of the 5 food groups whenever possible.

  • Limit sources of added sugars, sodium, saturated fat and trans fat. The American Heart Association heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating is a good resource for heart healthy eating. 

  • Drink milk or water in place of a sugar-sweetened beverage. Herbal teas add a variety of tastes without the caffeine. And, as we approach warmer weather, fruit infused water is always a refreshing beverage. 


Most importantly, focus on one small change at a time. Having a coach alongside you keeps you accountable and less likely to veer off the path. Reach out to a registered dietitian who can help you stay the course, but more importantly give you the tools to make good choices when you are sitting in a restaurant and staring at a very appetizing menu!


In good health, 

Sophie








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