By Jackie Hennemuth RD, Community Nutritionist
National Nutrition Month is held annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in an effort to focus on the importance of making informed choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This year’s theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape” and focuses on USDA’s new Choose MyPlate icon. MyPlate has replaced MyPyramid as the go-to nutritional guide for Americans. MyPlate illustrates the five foods groups needed for a healthy diet: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein.
National Nutrition Month is the perfect time to start thinking about what goes on your plate or in your cup or bowl. Use these tips to shape up your plate!
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
- Eat a variety of different color vegetables – the brighter the color the more nutrients it has!
- Fresh, frozen and canned all count
- Select “reduced-sodium” or “no-salt-added” veggie options.
- Choose fresh, 100% juice dried, frozen or canned in water fruits to add to a meal or as a snack.
Make at least half your grains whole grains
- Check the ingredients list for 100% whole-grains in breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and rice.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk
- These options have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients without all the fat and calories of whole milk.
Vary your protein choices
- Select lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish. Eggs are also a great source of protein!
- Opt for more plant-based protein options such beans, nuts and seeds.
It is also important to watch your portion sizes! You want to enjoy your food, but try to eat less. A good way to avoid overeating is to use smaller plates, bowls and glasses. Try eating at home more often – that way you can control how much is on your plate and also what’s in your food! It is easier to limit the amount of salt, sugar and fat that you consume if you or a family member is the one preparing the meal. National Nutrition Month also encourages us to be more physically active. Start by doing activities that you enjoy like going for a walk, riding bikes, or swimming. Children and teens need 60 minutes or more a day. Adults should aim for 2.5 hours or more a week.
National Nutrition Month is all about getting– and keeping your plate in shape – by being active and selecting more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains you can do just that! For more healthy eating tips visit: