By Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain
March symbolizes a time for growth and fresh beginnings through the start of springtime. This season of renewal is complimentary as March also marks National Nutrition Month. Created as an annual campaign by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month draws awareness to the importance of developing healthy habits. This includes maintaining a nutritious diet in addition to participating in regular physical activity. The ultimate goal of the movement is to create a world where all are informed of the plentiful benefits of leading a nutritious and balanced lifestyle.
One of the key components of National Nutrition Month is to empower people to make informed decisions when it comes to food. This pertains not only to nutritional value but also to being mindful of portion sizes and reducing food waste. Eating a variety of foods from each food group is imperative to maintaining a well-balanced diet as it can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure among other serious conditions. Not only does consciously incorporating varied food groups promote health, it also helps prevent the inevitable boredom that can come from eating the same dishes.
Another element of National Nutrition Month is promoting the reduction of food waste. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that roughly one third of food produced in the world is wasted each year. Sticking to a grocery list and avoiding impulse purchases can help reduce the amount of food that goes unused and is tossed out. Additionally, researching proper food storage practices can extend the lifetime of fruits and vegetables which often ripen and rot prematurely due to improper storage. Finally, maintaining a clutter-free fridge is a great way to reduce food spoilage. Not only can you clearly see what needs to be used, but a clean fridge also prevents accidental repeat-purchases and lends to eating a varied diet.
While it may take time to incorporate these habits into a busy schedule, there are other ways to take part in National Nutrition Month. Consider hosting a “healthy potluck” or recipe contest among friends or coworkers. Encourage the group to bring their favorite nutritious dish to spark conversation around meal ideas and preparation tips. Other ways to observe National Nutrition Month include hosting a workplace “lunch and learn” that promotes healthy eating or organizing a group fitness session at your local exercise studio or gym. However you choose to participate, let the month of March serve as a reminder of the importance that nutrition plays in our daily lives!
Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain is a general family medicine practitioner at Family Medicine Associates of Texas in Carrollton. She thoroughly enjoys improving the health and lives of individuals ranging from young children to adulthood. For more information, call 972-394-8844, or visit texasmedicine.com.