News | Published March 14, 2012 | Written by Kristy Koelle, RD, LDN, CDE, CSG

Get your plate in shape for National Nutrition Month

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) celebrates National Nutrition Month every year in March to help raise public interest in nutrition. In addition, today is recognized as Registered Dietitian Day to recognize the contributions of Registered Dietitians (RDs) as experts in nutrition and dietetics, and to promote the nutritional well-being of people all over the world.

This year's National Nutrition Month theme is "Get your Plate in Shape" and encourages consumers to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products on their plates every day. These foods contain the nutrients you need without adding excess calories.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce the risk for heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends reserving half your plate for fruits and vegetables. Try adding fruit to your morning oatmeal or enjoying vegetables with low-fat salad dressing instead of chips for a snack.

Some other tips on how to "Get your Plate in Shape" include:

  • Reduce the amount of sodium and solid fats in your diet
  • Try grilling, baking or steaming instead of frying foods
  • Replace solid fats with healthy oils when preparing foods
  • Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Consider drinks with little or no added sugars, like water, fat-free milk or 100% fruit juice
  • Control your portion sizes by using smaller dishes
  • Choose lower-calorie menu options when dining out

In addition to healthy eating, try staying active most days of the week. Adults should aim for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages consumers to switch to lower-calorie, healthier options, as well as to increase activity levels to improve overall health and well-being.

Nutrition-based observances like National Nutrition Month are a great way to remember to choose healthy foods, but these habits should also be incorporated into your daily lifestyle for the entire year. For more information on how you can "Get your Plate in Shape" with better food choices, visit www.eatright.org and www.choosemyplate.gov.

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