March is National Nutrition Month which is the yearly nutrition education campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to focus on the importance of making informed food choices. It is difficult for families to develop sound eating habits in today’s online climate. Every click can lead to questionable information from a variety of sources like well-meaning friends and family to the vast array of celebrity gurus.
It is interesting that the Roman god of war, Mars, inspired the naming of March. As a registered dietitian, it sometimes feels like war defending families from diet disasters. While the hype around quick fixes seems tempting, the recommendations lack credible sources backed by science. You can trust a registered dietitian to help you cut through the confusion and to stop falling for “Food Fails!” I shared three tips with Mississippi’s Fox 40 viewers to switch them from food fails to healthy eating wins.
Enjoy All Food Groups
When you cut out food groups, you cut out essential nutrients. For example, avoiding dairy foods can result in an improper intake of vitamin D and calcium, which could lead to osteoporosis. Families should enjoy a variety of nutrient-rich food choices coming from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy foods, lean meats, and heart-healthy fats.
Focus on Fiber
Dietary fiber found in fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains help protect your heart, slow digestion, and keep you feeling fuller longer. Enjoy a fruit, vegetable or both at every meal and snack. Add berries or sliced banana with a handful of spinach into a blender with Greek-style yogurt, for a fiber-rich, protein-packed, creamy breakfast or snack on-the-go.
Don’t Fear Fat
Foods that contain fat still offer nutritional value. When you choose the right fats, you can help your body absorb certain nutrients better such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Bonus tip: dietary fat helps curb hunger. Maximize meals and snacks by adding foods with staying power like avocados, olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, and full-fat dairy products. Don’t shy away from fat in dairy foods because of the saturated fat. New research suggests saturated fat consumption is not linked to poor heart health.
Put these tips to work with an easy to make Italian Pasta Bake. Serve your family three of the five food groups, packed with fiber, and savory flavor in under 30 minutes. I like mine with a turkey twist. Give this casserole a protein boost by adding in one-pound of ground turkey meat. Flavor the meat with 1 tablespoon minced garlic and half of a diced onion by sautéing the garlic and onion for 1-2 minutes before adding the ground meat to brown. Continue recipe as directed but adding an additional ½ cup of cheese to the mix.
Rebecca Turner is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), author, radio host, television personality, and a certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Follow @theRebeccaTurner on Instagram for food, fashion, fitness and fun.