March is National Nutrition Month which is an opportunity to highlight health through nutrition and wellness.
March is National Nutrition Month which is an opportunity to highlight health through nutrition and wellness. This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food” and is important for several reasons. We are encouraged to consume a healthful eating plan to achieve the benefits of optimal nutrition. Often we purchase the food, but don’t actually eat it. Healthy eating offers our body’s nutritional demands for fighting and preventing disease. Part of this year’s theme urges us to find ways to cut back on food waste. Embracing this theme will save you in food, nutrients and money.
Food loss and waste refers to food that is not eaten by people, for whatever reason. It has been estimated that billions of pounds of food are thrown away each year in the United States alone. That’s roughly 300 pounds of food per year for the average American. Prevention is the first step in reaching our national goal to cut food loss and waste in half. Key concepts to consider for National Nutrition Month include:
- Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis. Variety is the spice of life which is true for food choices.
- Consider the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store. Planning your meals in advance and shopping with a food list will ensure meals are adequate, varied, and food is available throughout the week.
- Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week. Menu planning helps to be sure all food is eaten before it goes to waste.
- Be mindful of serving sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you, as United States Department of Agriculture’s “Choose My Plate” encourages us to do. MyPlate is the guide set up by reducing the size of the plate to reduce overeating and waste.
- Continue to use good food safety practices. Things to think about include cooking meats to proper internal temperatures, washing fresh fruits and vegetables, and washing cutting boards between raw and cooked foods.
Let’s plan during National Nutrition Month to reduce our personal amount of food waste. Dietitians are great resources to help you achieve your nutrition goals!
Catherine Robinson is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She has a Masters Degree in Education and manages the Diabetes/Health Education department for Florida Health Care Plans, where education is provided to our members for diabetes, diabetes prevention, and medical nutrition therapy.