March is National Nutrition Month®, and this year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers several important points this year, including: “Eat a variety of foods from each food group. Plan ahead to make nutrition meals for the week. Learn culinary skills to create delicious meals. Choose healthful foods that you enjoy.” These are excellent, useful messages that I speak with clients about regularly. It’s important to include variety to avoid getting bored/monotonous with our eating, it is key to include foods from each food group to ensure a balanced intake of important nutrients, planning ahead can be helpful in making nutritious choices and not getting overly hungry throughout the day, and getting creative in the kitchen (even if you’re not used to it!) can be a fun way to learn about and try different foods. One of this year’s messages really stood out to me: “Choose healthful foods that you enjoy”. Over and over again I have seen people eliminating their favorite foods from their diets or mainly eating foods that they really don’t care for in order to lose weight or reach a certain health goal. It is important to include nutritious foods often for our health, but it is essential (and very possible!) to do this in a way that feels pleasant and enjoyable to us.
#NationalNutritionMonth is always a reminder for me to reflect on and appreciate my role as a dietitian. Despite what people may think dietitians do, I don’t put people on strict diets, criticize their food choices, or expect them to eat “perfectly” (what would that even mean?!). Instead, I have the privilege of discussing how different foods/nutrients affect our health and guiding people towards health-promoting habits in the way that is best for them. This process looks different for everyone. Something I observe frequently is how negatively people talk to themselves when it comes to their food choices. One of my favorite parts of my job is that I can be a positive and encouraging voice for people along their journey as they learn to adjust their behaviors and perspectives on food and nourishing themselves.
We recently started a Healthy Living Client Support Group over zoom, where we meet once a month to discuss challenges/successes people have been facing and goals they hope to achieve. Each session also focuses on a nutrition related topic–so far we have covered mindful eating, barriers to a healthy lifestyle, and satisfying foods. We also began a walking group this month as a way to get some fresh air and movement. Both of these activities have been such a fun way to provide support and motivation! If you are interested in participating in our Healthy Living Client Support Group, walking group, or a one-on -one consultation with a dietitian, let us know! 😊
By Julia Blackford
To learn more and read about the #NationalNutritionMonth themes mentioned above, visit eatright.org.