Open Arms of Minnesota

National Nutrition Month: Welcome!

By Gwen Hill MS, RD, LD

Open Arms is celebrating National Nutrition Month! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (A.N.D.), formerly known as the American Dietetic Association, encourages everybody to “Get Your Plate in Shape” during the month of March. Each week we will challenge you to incorporate a message from A.N.D.’s campaign to help you improve your eating habits.
The overriding message is simple: Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your bowl. USDA’s new MyPlate model shows exactly how a balanced meal should look. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins contain the nutrients you need without excessive calories. The plate does not provide space for high-sugar and high-fat sweets or sugary drinks. Limiting these things is a healthy, easy way to reduce unnecessary calories. These topics will be discussed in-depth throughout the month.

In addition to choosing the right foods, portion sizes make a big impact. Our plates, bowls and other eating tools have increased in size over the past few decades, leading us to fill them more than we would have before. This causes the portion sizes that we eat to be much larger, and in turn, causes the calories we consume to increase. If we do not exercise to use up the excess calories, we will start to gain weight, which increases our risk for undesirable health conditions. Therefore, we encourage you to watch your portion sizes and be active for the recommended 2 ½ hours (or more) each week to prevent this from happening. (If you need motivation to be active, check out “23 and 1/2 hours,” an amazing talk by Dr. Mike Evans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo)

Over the next few weeks a team of registered dietitians and dietetic interns will propose a weekly challenge via blog for you to incorporate into your diet. Along with the challenge will be a recipe that you can use to meet the challenge of the week. I encourage all of you to consider the reason the challenge is being proposed and determine if you are already meeting it. If not, what can you do to meet it? What will it do for your body if you change your eating habits to meet the challenge?

This month, I encourage you to think about how to “Get Your Plate in Shape” if it’s in need of a little tune-up! Good luck!

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