As the month of March approaches each year, many people associate it with the ending of winter and beginning of spring. For Registered Dietitians, the month of March symbolizes National Nutrition Month.
The theme for this year is "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day." The theme basically encourages consumers to include the foods they love as part of a healthful eating plan that is tailored for their lifestyles, traditions, health needs and, of course, tastes. Eating healthy doesn't mean that you need to give up all of the foods that you love.
How can you eat right every day if you have certain medical conditions that may cause you to monitor what you eat? It's simple! Below are some diet modifications to some common conditions:
Try to eat your meals and snacks around the same time every day.
Monitor your portion sizes.
Incorporate whole-grain breads, cereals, pastas and rice; vegetables and beans; fruits; lean meat, fish, poultry and tofu; low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt; and healthy fats like olive oil.
Monitor your carbohydrate intake (pasta, potatoes, bread, milk, fruit, etc.) to ensure your blood sugars remain controlled. Carbohydrates affect your blood sugar more than protein or fat.
Balance calories with physical activity to manage weight.
Increase the variety of nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products and seafood.
Consume fewer foods with sodium (salt), saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains.
Balance your calories consumed and calories burned through physical activity.
Include fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, which offer plenty of vitamins and minerals without plenty of calories while keeping you feeling full longer.
Monitor portion sizes to help manage calorie intake.
Limit empty calories (soft drinks and fruit drinks, candy, cookies, donuts, pastries, margarine, butter, cream, bacon, and all deep-fat fried foods).
If you are working towards a healthier weight, remember that diet alone cannot do the trick. Exercise is a key component. Per the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). (See http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/).
Find foods you enjoy
Eating healthier doesn't have to be torture. Even with certain medical conditions you can still work in the foods that you enjoy. You can learn to incorporate your favorite foods into your meal plan. If you are at risk for any of the previously mentioned conditions, the diet modifications can be used as a preventative measure. Celebrate Nutrition Month with us and learn to "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day!"
Page 2 of 2 - LaDale Walker, RD, LDN, of Middletown Family Wellness and Counseling, is a registered dietician and licensed nutritionist. She can be reached at (302) 449-4166 or email@example.com.