March is National Nutrition Month!
March 8, 2021
By Nicole Muller, Dietetic Intern at Meredith College and the Duke Lifestyle & Weight Management Center Nutrition Team.
Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates nutrition and food and encourages everyone to spend some time learning how to make the best choices for themselves! This year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate“. You nourish and fuel your body through each bite of food you eat. Although it may seem simple in theory, choosing nutritious foods can be difficult, especially when we have many other things to think about. Fortunately, there are many ways to make healthy choices easy choices.
Planning and Shopping
- Planning meals may seem like it takes up too much time, but once you do it for the week, you are set! Take some time each week when you are relaxed and can focus and think about what you want to make. For inspiration, look at your grocery store’s weekly ad for sales. See what you have in your pantry or freezer that you can use. If you have favorite healthy recipes from family, friends, or the Internet, print them out and make a cookbook. This way, you always have favorites to fall back on when you lack inspiration.
- When you have decided what to eat for the week, make a list! This keeps you organized and focused when you go to the grocery store.
- Make sure you don’t go to the store hungry. If you do, you are more likely to impulsively buy foods you don’t need, especially snack foods. Go to the store after you have eaten a meal or a snack.
Just as with planning, preparing meals does not have to take hours and hours. Try these tips to cut down on cooking time.
- Buy pre-cut vegetables. You can buy fresh pre-cut vegetables such as broccoli and lettuce.
- Use a slow cooker or Instant Pot. These two cooking gadgets can save you a lot of time in the kitchen and make delicious meals!
- Make enough for leftovers. You can easily double a recipe to make enough food for more than one meal. This way, you don’t have to cook every night. If you’re not a huge fan of having the same meal two days in a row, you can freeze the leftovers for another week. This works especially well for dishes made with ground meat, like meatballs, soups, and casseroles.
Keeping Healthy Foods on Hand
- Buy bananas, apples, oranges, or mandarins to keep in your fruit bowl. For fruit that needs refrigeration, wash and prepare before you store them. Or, buy pre-cut fruit, such as cantaloupe and pineapple.
- Pack some healthy snacks. Instead of being tempted by the vending machine or break room cookies, bring a nutritious, filling snack to work or when you’re on the go. Some great options are nuts and dried fruit, baby carrots and hummus, yogurt and granola, fresh fruit and peanut butter.
- Keep your kitchen stocked with the healthy basics from each food group for when you don’t have time to plan.
- Protein: lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, tofu, beans, nuts. When you have extra meat or poultry, put some in the freezer for a later date. When you want to use it, thaw it in the refrigerator for the next day.
- Vegetables: Many frozen vegetable varieties can be cooked quickly in the microwave or on the stove. Vegetables are frozen at peak freshness, so they retain all their nutrients.
- Fruit: Frozen fruit is great to add to smoothies for a quick breakfast or snack. You can also buy fruit cups in water or 100% juice. Apples and oranges can stay fresh for more than a week if stored in the refrigerator.
- Grains: Keep your favorite whole grains in the pantry, whether brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, or barley.
- Dairy: Although dairy is hard to keep stocked because it does not last as long, you can buy portion-sized containers of yogurt and cheese that are good until their use-by date. If you use milk regularly, remember to put it on your list! And look for low-fat milk, yogurt with less added sugar, and cheese made with skim milk.
Enjoy Your Food
- Find and eat nutritious foods that you enjoy. There are many kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein foods to explore. Pick a new food or recipe to try every month!
- Cooking can be enjoyable. Take pride in your creations, experiment with different variations, and make it a family activity.
- Focus on your food. At mealtime, put away the phone, turn off the TV, sit at the table with friends or family, and savor the flavors.
Meet with a Registered Dietitian (RD)
Registered dietitians have the education and qualifications to help you meet your nutrition and health goals and answer any questions you may have.
For more information about National Nutrition Month
About Duke Health & Well-Being Nutrition Services
Our individualized nutrition services treat specific health conditions, manage weight healthfully, and attain optimal vitality through a wholesome diet. Our nutritionists understand that getting on the right path toward your health goals is a process that requires support, adjustment, and taking small steps to make lasting and positive changes. Work with a nutritionist to discover the connection between food, movement, stress, and rest and make strategic changes to your diet to help you achieve your goals.
Integrative Nutrition at Integrative Medicine →
Diet & Nutrition Counseling at the Duke Lifestyle & Weight Management Center →
Nutrition Consultations at the Duke Health and Fitness Center →