Each year and in March we celebrate National Nutrition Month which is created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. National Nutrition Month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants you to enjoy healthy eating as well as your personal food preferences. The theme of the 2023 observation – the 50th anniversary of National Nutrition Month – is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.”
Here are some ways to practice healthy living and make informed food choices while enjoying your style.
Get an Education
Start by getting a family education in eating right. A great step to familiarize yourself with what exactly makes food healthy (or not) is the FDA site on nutrition facts.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers good tips for eating “Your Way” during National Nutrition Month. Your family should always question whether your healthy living plan has the following:
- Representatives from all five food groups
- Correct number of servings from each of the five
- The food you find enjoyable
- Items available at your local grocery or supermarket
- Family favorites
- Affordable foods that also match your family’s lifestyle
- Regular physical movement
Involve children by having them construct checklists with these guidelines that you can post on the refrigerator or take to the store. Include some of their favorite foods in weekly menus and let them pick a new fruit or vegetable to try each week.
Nutrition Facts labels have appeared on all packaged food and drinks for two decades. They provide valuable information for deciding which foods to buy:
Serving size – Measurements are for one serving. Check how many servings – often more than one – are in a package. Let kids old enough to read help by comparing labels.
Calories – Losing, gaining, and maintaining weight have one thing in common. They all require balancing the calories you eat with those you use. You’ll need to know how many calories each serving has. Want to know which applesauce is healthier? Get the kids to help by giving each a label to read and calories to check.
Nutrient content – Family members can compare the Percent Daily Value (%DV) that appears on the Nutrition Facts Label of packaged foods. This is a big help in controlling nutrients to avoid like sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fat.
National Nutrition Month is all about focusing on healthy living that fits with your family’s lifestyle. Both healthy eating and regular physical activity are important components.
Regular activity doesn’t mean just working up a sweat at a gym. It includes walking the dog, going to a yoga class, mowing the lawn, and playing in a friendly neighborhood softball game.
Many parents find it a challenge to get their kids moving. Kids love gadgets, so getting them pedometers, then letting them record activity on a chart they make is a great choice. Include rewards for milestones achieved.
Setting house rules such as no TV, computers, or other sedentary activity during certain hours can get families moving. Most kids love receiving awards, so consider signing up for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award. Your family can have fun playing basketball, going bird watching, gardening, and doing dozens of other activities. You can celebrate National Nutrition Month and earn an award for healthy eating and physical activity in less than two months.