Dietitians like to think that healthy eating and making nutritious choices is an uppermost priority for folks all year, but even we must admit that this may not be the case. So, to ensure that nutrition and the important field of dietetics is top of mind for at least one month of the year, we have National Nutrition Month (NNM).
An annual March tradition, NNM highlights ways of making conscientious choices to improve your diet and emphasizes the helpful role that dietitians play in maintaining a healthier lifestyle. The NNM 2020 theme, “Eat Right, Bite by Bite,” celebrates small steps for creating big change. Using a step-by-step, weekly approach to shift toward healthier habits, NNM 2020 helps you establish a path to better eating that everyone can achieve and maintain.
Week #1: Switch it up!
Use the first week of March to choose new, healthy foods that you’ve been curious about trying, but haven’t yet added to your grocery cart. A healthy diet must be a varied diet, rich in flavorful foods you want to eat, not have to eat. Week one of NNM is about seeking foods that satisfy your senses with crunch and color, as well as sweetness and spice. While shopping for these new foods, look for foods labeled with 1, 2, or 3 Guiding Stars to quickly make sure you’re adding the most nutritious options to your cart.
Week #2: Be a planner.
There are a few things in life we can do spur of the moment. Creating a balanced day of eating isn’t likely one of them. It doesn’t have to be tough, though, if you plan just a bit. Start by creating a shopping list that matches your household habits. Are you home for dinner? Eat lunch at work? Require easy-to-pack, satisfying snacks? Next, fill your refrigerator and pantry with the fresh foods and supplies you need for a successful week. Once you’re a planning pro, turn tonight’s dinner into tomorrow’s lunch and make meal prep a natural part of your week.
Week #3: Be a home chef.
With healthy new foods in your home and a few menu planning skills under your belt, the next natural step is to become more comfortable in the kitchen. Maybe you’ve come to learn you love a spice or new food. Now you can experiment with it in unexpected places or in different recipes. For example, if you picked up quinoa for a savory side, try it in a beautiful brunch dish too. With more experimenting comes new recipes and less kitchen waste—a clear win-win. If you’re looking for recipe ideas, Guiding Stars has over a thousand tested and star-earning recipes to inspire you.
Week #4: Check in with an expert.
One of my favorite roles as a retail dietitian is the opportunity to support folks as they travel their path toward healthier living. I especially love to help people find new ideas, assist them in making beneficial, sustainable changes, and to support them in staying on track. Reach out to a dietitian in your area if you have any questions and follow the Guiding Stars blog for more tips!
Leave it to a group of dietitians to pick a nice, long month to get you started on a journey toward healthier living. After 31 days of food focus, it’s likely to be a natural part of you. That said, should spring celebrations and more pull you from your path, it’s easy to return to these steps and back to “eating right, bite by bite.”