Aligning with the 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the 2017 theme "Put Your Best Fork Forward" acts as a reminder that each bite counts and to start with small changes to make lifelong habits. Keep up with January's New Year's resolutions with these nutrition month activities and ideas!
National Nutrition Month Activities
• Eat Breakfast
Put your best fork forward starting at the wee hours of the day! Despite the ambiguity on whether or not breakfast is actually the most important meal of the day, most nutrition experts promote its intake. A well-balanced breakfast can help energize the day while diminishing hunger pangs that likely arise during midmorning hours leading up to lunch. Fuel up with these high-protein, low-carb breakfast ideas you do not want to miss out on!
• Practice Meal Prepping
Generally, most individuals fall off the health train come dinnertime. The overwhelming thought of cooking a healthful meal following a long workday often leads to drive thru runs or calls to the pizza delivery man. But the practice of meal prepping can allow individuals to enjoy a nutritious meal without added stress of its preparation at 6 o'clock. Additionally, have the table mostly set and ready to encourage family mealtimes and check one more task off the evening list.
• Prepare at Least One New Recipe
While the art of meal prepping minimizes time required in the kitchen, cook at least one meal from start to finish. If possible, try to eliminate prepackaged foods, utilizing the most natural ingredients. If needing a little inspiration, try these bistroMD original recipes, including dill cucumber salad, Greek stuffed peppers, BBQ pulled pork crepes, and a healthier-for-you almond joy candy bar!
• Try One New Fruit or Vegetable Each Week
During the month of March, try one fresh fruit or vegetable each week. Simply slice up and taste test with children, lightly season and sauté, or pair with a main entrée. If available, try choosing produce in season at a local farmer's market, also chatting with their vendor to learn more about their featured products.
• Attempt A New Cooking Technique
Although the use of a microwave and conventional oven can still offer their use, attempt a new cooking and food preparation technique. For instance, use a spiralizer to create low-carb zucchini noodles (also known as "zoodles") or attempt canning various food products as described here.
• Eat at A New Restaurant
With all the talk regarding prepping meals at home and trying out new cooking techniques in the kitchen, the suggestion of eating out may appear contradictory. However, people can absolutely still eat at restaurants without tossing away their health goals. With eateries evolving towards so-called "cleaner" menus, eating out is transforming into much more than fried and processed foods. To develop a more extensive taste palate, dine at a local restaurant with close family and friends and try seasonal menu items.
• Practice Mindfulness
Stressing the importance of physical and emotional awareness during mealtimes, mindful eating involves paying attention to external surroundings and internal feelings while eating. The practice is touted to put individuals in touch with their hunger and satiety cues while alleviating the chance to eat mindlessly, whether it be fueled by emotions or boredom. Practice mindfulness by turning off all electronics and tuning into the senses, including smelling and fully tasting foods.
• Deactivate Stress by Getting Active
Stress can be subtle or quite apparent, with its presence internally affecting body hormones and outwardly exhibiting stress eating. Counteract stress by getting active, as it can help stimulate those "feel good" hormones while reaping the physical benefits of exercise! Make it a family effort by taking a bike ride, playing at the park, or competing in a friendly game of kickball.
In addition to the suggested nutrition month activities, the official National Nutrition Month website includes additional resources to accommodate all ages and cultural backgrounds. Using #NationalNutritionMonth on social media accounts can also spread the message of good nutrition and embracing an overall healthy lifestyle!