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A Great Year for Nutrition

What a great time it is to be a registered dietitian!  As of March 13th, which was the 6th Annual Registered Dietitian Day, we can also add the word “Nutritionist�? to our title, to reflect the emphasis on how registered dietitians, in addition to the providers of medical nutrition therapy, are fundamentally involved in promoting wellness and teaching Americans how to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles.

National Nutrition Month® is the yearly celebration of our profession as well as our passion.  Each March our parent organization, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, chooses a theme that emphasizes the importance that food plays in our lives and our health.  Some of my favorite previous themes were 1991’s “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle�?, 2007’s “100% Fad Free�?, and 2011’s “Eat Right With Color�?.  Now it’s 2013, and this year the theme is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day�?.  I’m excited because this so eloquently reflects my own personal philosophy: weight management is a deliberate strategy practiced one day at a time, one choice at a time, throughout our busy lives.

Food Is Our Freedom

Food is more than fuel for most people…food is culture, and tradition, and celebration.  Food is art for many, we practice and learn techniques that allow us to explore new tastes and to imagine what it’s like being part of a distant culture.  Food is often a way of expressing love and gratitude.  Food grounds us in the past, and makes us excited about the future.  When we examine all of the reasons we enjoy food, we find that besides taste and nutrition, what we eat defines our lives and our values.

Every day we have choices made for us…when to show up at work or at school, when to eat lunch, what to wear, even how to communicate.  But no one can make us eat, or dictate how much…no one insists we must eat fast food frequently, or put butter on our vegetables if we do not so choose, or to drink a regular sugared soda if we don’t want to.  We have the freedom to choose.

Food is one of the few choices that we make almost 100% freely, and “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day�? beautifully expresses this right, this freedom, enjoyed by most Americans.  We are free to choose fresh, whole foods, to prepare them healthfully, and to enjoy these foods both for their flavor and nutritional benefits.  We’re all busy people, but we’re lucky because there are timesaving tools and foods that make eating right manageable.

Eating Right, Your Way, Every Day

We can choose how much we eat, and how active we are.  We can go for a walk or sit on the couch.  We can take the stairs or the elevator.  We can choose our foods based on our personal food preferences, and do it every day. Here are five of my tips that will help you to eat right, your way, every day.

  • Equip Your Kitchen: A nonstick skillet, pressure cooker (which can double as a pot) and food processor or blender makes fresh meals a snap. With these three essentials, you can eat right, without spending hours in the kitchen
  • Keep it simple:  Eggs are a perfect solution to busy lives; they are a superior source of protein and important vitamins and minerals; they stay fresh in your refrigerator and are great for a quick frittata supper. Be creative and include vegetables, beans and fish.  Eggs are inexpensive, a crowd-pleaser, and versatile, and research shows that most people can enjoy eggs as often as they please.

Healthy Recipe Idea: Egg, Spinach, and Sweet Pepper Mini Frittatas

  • Think whole: Choose unprocessed whole grains such as quinoa, barley, oats and wheat berries. The first ingredient to describe your sliced bread should be “whole wheat�?, the same for cereal, choose whole grain.  Enjoy unprocessed fruit and veggies instead of juices to increase your healthy fiber intake and manage your weight successfully.
  • Think Fresh: Plan a menu including casseroles, soups and stews. Create quick meals around broiled and grilled poultry, lean meats and fish.
  • Stock up:  Staples like grains, beans (dried or canned), pasta and canned tomatoes, artichoke hearts and jarred red peppers are all good things to stuck up on. Frozen vegetables, often more nutritious than fresh, depending upon how long the ‘fresh’ veggies languish on the grocer’s shelves, may be added to soups and stews to boost flavor, texture and nutrition.

Keep things simple and fresh in your kitchen to make sure you can eat right, you way, every day, not just during March,  National Nutrition Month, but all year long.