National Nutrition Month® is an educative and information imparting campaign on nutrition, annually held in the month of March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on educating people on the importance of food choices, developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
Theme for Year 2017:
National Nutrition Month® (NNM) was initiated as “National Nutrition Week” in March, 1973, and it was one-week long event. In 1980 NNM expanded to a month-long observance. Over the years, the theme has reflected trends and culture of the time, but has always remained true to its original purpose: “To increase the public’s awareness of the importance of good nutrition and position Academy members as the authorities in nutrition.”. “Put Your Best Fork Forward” is the theme for NNM 2017 which serves as a reminder that each one of us holds the tool in our own hand to make healthier food choices.
“Eating healthy can prevent and manage many chronic diseases”, says registered dietician and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson, Vandana Sheth. An eating plan keeps an individual’s health concerns in consideration and also helps to integrate the person’s personal nutrient needs, food preferences, lifestyle and level of physical activity. Registered dietitian nutritionists can help you develop personalized solutions that will keep you healthy and allow you to still enjoy your favorite foods throughout your entire life.
According to Vandana Sheth, eating foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains while limiting sodium, saturated and trans-fats and cholesterol decreases high blood pressure and risk of heart disease or stroke. In accordance to Dietary guidelines for Americans:
- Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
- Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts. Also Nutrition label facts states that amount of calories per serving should be 230 cal.
- Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume food low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages high in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
- Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
- Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.
A Healthy Eating Pattern Includes
- A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other. Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin A,  C, E, K and B6, copper, magnesium, folate, iron, manganese, thiamin, niacin, and choline. The recommended amount of vegetables in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is 2½ cup-equivalents of vegetables per day. Julienning vegetables can make it easier to get the two and a half cups we need every day.
- Fruits – especially whole fruits. Among the many nutrients fruits provide are dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. The recommended amount of fruits in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is 2 cup-equivalents per day. One cup of 100% fruit juice counts as 1 cup of fruit.
- Whole grains – 100% whole-wheat breads, whole-grain pasta, and brown rice, quinoa, and oats. Whole grains are a source of nutrients, such as dietary fiber, iron, zinc, manganese, folate, magnesium, copper, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, selenium, riboflavin, and vitamin A . The recommended amount of grains in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is 6 ounce-equivalents per day. At least half of this amount should be whole grains.
- Dairy – Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages. The dairy group contributes many nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D (in products fortified with vitamin D), riboflavin, vitamin B12, protein, potassium, zinc, choline, magnesium, and selenium. The recommended amounts of dairy in the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern are based on age rather than calorie level and are 2 cup-equivalents per day for children between 2 to 3 years, 2½ cup-equivalents per day for children between 4 to 8 years, and 3 cup-equivalents per day for adolescents between 9 to 18 years and for adults.
- A variety of protein foods – including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products. Protein foods are important sources of nutrients in addition to protein, including B vitamins (e.g., niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and riboflavin), selenium, choline, phosphorus, zinc, copper, vitamin D, and vitamin E). The recommendation for protein foods in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is 5½ ounce-equivalents of protein foods per day.
- Oils – such as vegetable oil, canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils while cooking; intake of foods that naturally contain oils, such as seafood, nuts, seeds, olives and avocados; choose salad dressings and spreads made with oils. Oils provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E. The recommendation for oils in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is 27 g (about 5 teaspoons) per day.
- Beverages – calorie-free—especially water—or that contribute beneficial nutrients, such as fat-free and low-fat milk and 100% juice.
Healthy Eating: Limit Your Intake
- Saturated fats and trans-fats – Intake of saturated fats should be limited to less than 10 percent of calories per day.
- Added sugars – limit added sugars to less than 10 percent of calories per day.
- Sodium – The recommendation for adults and children ages 14 years and older to limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day.
- Cholesterol – Current average intake of dietary cholesterol among 1 year and older in the United States is approximately 270 mg per day.
- Alcohol – if consumed; should be consumed in moderation. Up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.
Even if you don’t suffer from blood pressure problems, eating heart healthy diet today reduces your chances of heart disease in future.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Nutrition Month website, eatright.org/NNM, includes articles, recipes, videos and educational resources to spread the message of good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. You can also follow National Nutrition Month on social media using #National Nutrition Month®.