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national nutrition month, theme eating right, showing healthy foods

Nutrition is an important component to our health, but it’s often difficult to address in a hectic world that makes junk food and large portion sizes more convenient and appealing than healthy alternatives. More than half of adults and one in four high school and middle school students in Massachusetts are overweight or obese. Related, over 75% of adults in Massachusetts are not eating the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

People who are overweight have increased health risks for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, and cancer. To reduce and prevent these risks, it’s important to eat healthy and get regular physical activity.

With this in mind, March is National Nutrition Month (NNM). In an effort to recognize the many influences that play a role in what we eat, this year’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,” a focus on combining taste and nutrition to create healthy meals.

By exploring new flavors, eating healthy foods can be exciting and lead to healthier food consumption. Here are three tips from the Department of Public Health (DPH):

  1. At the grocery store, purchase one new food item each week. Whether it is a new fruit or vegetable that can be sliced up as a snack, or a whole grain you have never tried, be adventurous and try something different.
  2. If you go out to eat, order your favorite meal, but with a new and exciting flavor twist. For example, try a sautéed vegetable that you don’t usually make at home, or a grilled or baked version of a chicken or meat dish. You could even try new ethnic foods with your family—either at a restaurant or exploring with herbs and spices while you cook at home.
  3. Add variety to the meals you typically prepare at home by changing the way you cook them. Steam or roast vegetables as a side dish. Or, bake chicken rolled in whole wheat bread crumbs and a dash of your favorite spices. Replace salt with herbs and spices to add new flavor to meals while lowering sodium.

Eating better and being more active is easier than you might think. Mass in Motion promotes six behaviors to reduce your risk for becoming overweight or obese:

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and packed with nutrients. They make a delicious addition to any meal or snack.
  2. Re-think your drink: Fruit-flavored juices and sugary drinks such as sodas pack a lot of calories, and few, if any, nutrients. Choosing water, seltzers, or plain, low-fat, or fat-free milk can help quench your thirst without adding extra calories.
  3. Downsize your portions: Eating large portions can add extra calories, and extra calories can add extra weight. Using smaller plates, eating smaller bites, and taking time to enjoy your meal can help you avoid overeating.
  4. Choose to move more: Being active for 30 minutes a day can help you stay in shape, maintain your weight, and feel great.
  5. Breastfeed your baby: Breastfeeding can help fight disease, obesity, and common illnesses, and helps babies’ brains develop.
  6. Reduce TV time: Many of us spend up to four hours in front of the TV every day while often snacking on unhealthy foods.

How will you celebrate Nutrition Month? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @MassGov

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