National Nutrition Month: Go Further with Food
March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is Go Further with Food. On the national level, the campaign is focusing on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. But here at Summerfield Custom Wellness, we have a different idea of what it means to go further with food.
Since all of our services are customized to health history, budget, and lifestyle, we do not give out a lot of “blanket” health and nutrition information. However, at the heart of our eating philosophy, we do encourage The Plate Method in some form or fashion with a lot of our clients. The Plate Method is an easy way to strike a healthy balance in your diet by eating half a plate of non-starchy vegetables, a quarter plate of starch (carbohydrates), and a quarter plate of protein. This is the first step with a lot of clients because we notice that people do not have difficulty finding proteins and starches but they do have issues including vegetables throughout the day.
After you have The Plate Method down, we have two mini-challenges for you to go further with your food.
Eat the rainbow. You may have heard this before but here is why it is so important to incorporate foods of all colors into your plate. Nutrients are what give foods their color. A food that is red cannot possibly have the same exact nutrients as a food that is green. This is great news because even as a dietitian, I cannot tell you a complete list of nutrients that are in each food – that’s not necessary! If we work towards featuring every color on our plate, we know we have all the nutrients we need. These nutrients are required to run all of our body’s activities including our sight, hormone regulation, brain and nerve function, our metabolism, and many more.
As Americans in 2018, we include white, brown, and sometimes green foods with ease. Go further with your food by aiming for a rainbow colored plate.
Cook at home. Saving money is a huge reason to prepare more meals at home, but there are also many health benefits. When you cook at home, you have more control over food choices and ingredients, which can be beneficial when you are aiming for a beautiful, colorful, balanced plate. It is easier to incorporate nutrients that may be lacking in your diet like fiber, iron, or calcium. It is also easier to avoid ingredients if they are contraindicated for your health like with diabetes or food allergies. If you are personally selecting each ingredient at the grocery store, you have the ability to customize your meals to incorporate the exact nutrients that are right for your body instead of being at the mercy of restaurant options. Cooking at home also allows you to reap the social and mental health benefits of family time and gives you the opportunity for leftovers!
These two strategies are simple to implement, especially this time of year. With spring approaching, we have access to more fresh, colorful produce. So it’s time to pull the grill out of the garage, celebrate National Nutrition Month, and enjoy the warmer weather!