Spring is a time for new beginnings, a season to start fresh and tackle those goals you’ve had in your mind for months. So it’s also the ideal month to celebrate National Nutrition Month, the annual month created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that focuses on nutrition education to enable people to make healthy choices all year long. Each year the Academy picks a theme to focus on, and this year’s theme, “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” was selected to emphasize the importance of healthy eating and daily physical activity on overall health. According to the Academy’s website, Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle “encourages everyone to adopt eating and physical activity plans that are focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.”
One important tip the Academy is emphasizing this year is that you should evaluate your individual needs when planning your meals or exercise routine. They suggest taking a look at your personal nutrition and caloric needs while still keeping in mind your personal preferences and diverse cultural traditions. The key to developing a healthy lifestyle plan is education – learn what the current recommendations are for diet and exercise from a reliable source, like the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.gov, then use what you’ve learned to create a personalized plan that fits your current health, lifestyle, goals and preferences. Because you’ll be way more likely to stick to a plan that fits with your current lifestyle than one where you’re trying to drastically change the way you live.
Tips for Everyone
Despite the focus on individual assessments and healthy living plans, the fact remains that some nutrition and exercise tips work for almost everyone. For instance, the Academy suggests that your nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming food, as opposed to taking supplements or other diet aids. For the best nutritional value, these nutrients should come from a wide variety of foods such as vegetables, fruits, seafood, lean meat, legumes and nuts. Limit foods with added sugar, fat and salt, and ensure you’re getting regular physical activity for the best health results.
Planning Leads to Success
One message that remains the same from last year’s National Nutrition Month? Planning leads to success! Notice the emphasis on creating and following an “eating and physical activity plan.” That’s because experts agree that making a plan – whether that means scheduling physical activity on your Calendar, making a weekly meal plan or grocery list, or simply writing down your health and nutrition goals – will help you be more successful in the long run. A good plan can help you cut out temptation and keep you on track to meet your goals long after National Nutrition Month is over.
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