Celebrate National Nutrition Month

BROOKINGS, S.D. - Celebrate the importance of healthy eating by focusing on healthy eating patterns this March during National Nutrition Month. "This year's theme encourages everyone to Savor the Flavor of Eating Right by taking time to enjoy foo...

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BROOKINGS, S.D. - Celebrate the importance of healthy eating by focusing on healthy eating patterns this March during National Nutrition Month."This year's theme encourages everyone to Savor the Flavor of Eating Right by taking time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food adds to our lives," explains Megan Olesen, SDSU Extension Nutrition Field Specialist of the holiday organized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Olesen said the emphasis is aimed at balancing food and beverages as part of a healthy eating pattern rather than focusing on a specific food and nutrient. "The overall goal is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, develop sound physical activity habits, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health," she explained. "How, when, why and where we eat are just as important as what we eat. Develop a mindful eating pattern that includes nutritious and flavorful foods - that's the best way to savor the flavor of eating right.   Where to begin?If you are ready to start making small shifts in your eating pattern for a healthier you, you may be wondering where to start? Before running to the grocery store, Olesen and her colleague, Megan Erickson, SDSU Extension Nutrition Field Specialist say it is important to know how to make informed food choices based on your individual health and nutrient needs. She outlines some tips below.  Learn Your Needs: Your age, gender, body type, family history, existing health conditions and daily routines all play an important role in developing a healthy eating pattern that is right for you.  A healthy eating patterns includes the 5 food groups from MyPlate, found online at . "Basically it encourages you to make half your plate fruits and vegetables, aiming for half your grains to be whole grain, selecting lean protein sources and choosing fat-free or low-fat dairy foods," Erickson said.   Find Your Foods: In order for you to make informed food choices, it is crucial to understand what is in your food. According to the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, some ways to improve your eating style is to choose healthier foods more often in place of foods with added sugar, solid fat, or salt. "By choosing to include healthier foods and beverages more often, you can still enjoy those less healthy items on occasion," Olesen said.  Know the Facts: Reading a food label can be daunting as it offers an abundance of information. When buying food that is in a package, Olesen said it is helpful to read the labels to know if it fits into a healthy diet.  Quick Tips:1.On the nutrition facts label, the higher the ingredient on the list, the more of that ingredient is in the product. Therefore, you can easily determine if a product is made with a lot of sugar, fat, salt, etc. if they are high on the ingredients list. 2. When an ingredient is reduced like sugar for example, it is often replaced with another unhealthy ingredient to aid in the flavor. That is why it is always important to read the nutrition facts label and ignore the front of package claims.  Visit with a professional: Speaking with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist will help you learn what your body's nutrition needs are. "Understanding your nutritional needs will help you to reach a healthy lifestyle and decrease the risk of chronic disease," Erickson said. "A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist will help you understand which foods can fit into your healthy eating pattern while keeping your tastes and preferences in mind." Registered Dietitian Nutritionists provide credible and scientific-based food and nutrition information and are committed to helping people enjoy healthy lives.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, , can assist you in finding a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area if you should have any questions about a particular dietary concern or would like further information on what registered dietitian nutritionist services are offered in your community.  Your health care provider is another great resource on assisting you with any health related issues related to diet. 

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