Friday, March 5, 2010

Celebrate National Nutrition Month

By Jamie Strauss R.D., L.D.N.
Clinical Dietitian, Food and Nutrition Services, Sinai Hospital

What is National Nutrition Month? How did it start? Is there a different theme every year? These questions may be floating around in your mind if you have wandered into your facility’s cafeteria and saw a banner hanging or dietitians at a booth advertising good health.

National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created by the American Dietetic Association. The campaign, held each year in March, focuses attention on making informed food choices and developing better eating and physical activity habits.

Initiated in March 1973 as a long-week event, “National Nutrition Week” became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) sponsors National Nutrition Month as part of its mission to promote optimal nutrition and well being for all people by advocating for its members.

Each year National Nutrition Month has a different theme with key messages. The theme for March 2010 is “Nutrition from the Ground Up." These messages include making it clear that eating right doesn't have to be complicated. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy and includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.

Nutritional health includes being aware of portion sizes. Even low-calorie foods can add up when portions are larger than you need.

You should make the most of family meal times. Eating meals together provides the opportunity to help children develop a healthy attitude toward food and enables parents to serve as role models, introduce new foods, and establish a regular meal schedule.

Finally, balancing physical activity with healthy diet is best for managing weight and promoting overall health and fitness.

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