Posted by: Lynn Beattie – WIC Nutritionist
It’s that time of year, again! National Nutrition Month kicks off on March 1st with the theme, “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day,” and recognizes that there are many influences that play a role in what we eat. These include food preferences, lifestyle habits, cultural traditions, and health concerns. The major focus of National Nutrition Month is to show the importance of making well-informed food choices and developing healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
We can all find ourselves stuck in a routine (or rut!), eating the same types of foods we are used to buying and preparing on a regular basis. Many of these choices are influenced by habits we have created throughout our lives, beginning in childhood.
Personally, I find myself making many of the same dishes that my mother made for my sister and me when we were children. It’s not easy to change up my entire menu, but I’ve been trying to make small changes to my grocery list and recipes to add a healthy variety of foods for my family. For example, growing up in an Italian household, many of our meals included pasta. Although I love pasta and find myself reaching for it many times when I am cooking, I’ve been trying to make a variety of other grains that are whole such as brown rice, whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta. Recently, I prepared bulgur for the first time and everyone enjoyed it!
Below are a few tips to help you change up your diet and add a healthy variety to your meals and snacks. Try to continue with it even after National Nutrition Month!
- Make a list before going to the grocery store of the types of foods you need, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein. This will help you remember to buy a variety of foods and the list will help you stay on target and stick to a budget.
- Buy one new food item each time you shop, 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!
- Add something new and different to your usual meal. Here are a few examples:
- If you enjoy white rice, try making brown rice, too. If you need to make the switch gradually, try making it half brown and half white to start. .
- Add chopped vegetables such as zucchini, spinach, carrots or cauliflower to lasagna, meat loaf, or pasta sauce.
- Fill an omelet with a hearty blend of vegetables, such as broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes or onions, and top with low-fat sharp cheddar cheese.
- Toss fat-free unsalted popcorn (a whole grain!) with almonds, dried fruit, and a dash of cinnamon and sugar for an easy, healthy snack.
- Prepare oatmeal with low-fat milk in place of water. Top with slivered almonds and your favorite fruit.
How will you celebrate Nutrition Month? Let us know!