Tips for making informed food choices and sound eating habits.

March is National Nutrition Month, sponsored annual by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Now is a great a time to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices, and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

What is nutritious eating? outlines dietary guidelines for Americans, including:

  • Making half of your plate fruits and veggies
  • Choosing whole grains at least 50% of the time
  • Swapping full-fat dairy for items like low-fat milk or fat-free yogurt
  • Changing up the proteins you eat
  • Limiting sodium, saturated fat and added sugars

Portion size and eating in moderation

Building on what you eat, and how much to eat, “moderation” is frequently associated with nutritious eating. The tricky thing about moderation is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to defining it. Find out how to determine what it means to you and the potential risks of using “everything in moderation” as a guideline, because that could simply mean eating more unhealthy foods.

It’s not a “diet”—it’s a lifestyle change

Rather than overhauling your life for healthier habits at an overwhelming pace, consider starting small to make a big impact in the long term. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests five easy tips for getting a realistic jumpstart on healthier habits:

  • Eat breakfast—think berries with low-fat cottage cheese or a whole-wheat English muffin with natural peanut butter
  • Cut back on caffeine—try to keep it to less than three cups of coffee a day
  • Bring lunch to work—swap cream-based for oil-based salad dressings
  • Eat more fruits and veggies
  • Cook dinner at home—focus on veggies, which can be added into stir-fry, spaghetti sauce and soup

What if I follow a restricted diet?

Generally, the same guidelines apply—however there are some special considerations for:

For personalized guidance on nutrition and fitness, you can meet with a Personal Trainer at the Y.