March is National Nutrition Month.
National Nutrition Month occurs every March as a campaign by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The goal of National Nutrition Month is to encourage Americans to improve their personal health through diet and the power of food.
The month is divided into four weeks. Each week emphasizes a certain topic based on healthy eating:
Week One: Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day!
Eat the rainbow! No, we don’t mean Skittles. Eat the rainbow just means to try a lot of different colorful fruits and vegetables. Bonus points if you try foods you have never had before, or that you do not eat often! You can also learn how to read nutrition labels, get plenty of water, control your portions, and eat slowly to savor the flavor.
Week Two: Plan your meals each week.
This one is pretty straightforward. Before the start of the week, try to plan out as many of your meals as you can. Use these planned meals to make your grocery list. If possible, look up meal options at your school or work for the week ahead. Try to make your meals away from home healthy, or prepare meals at home to take with you if no healthy options are available. Tip: look up restaurant menus ahead of time, and decide what you will order before you arrive.
Week Three: Learn skills to create tasty meals!
Try cooking! Many of us may be a bit uneasy in the kitchen. Cooking is like anything else–you have to practice to get better! No one is born a professional chef. Take this week to have fun with cooking healthy meals. Look up some healthy recipes for dishes you enjoy, or find recipes for new dishes to try. New foods can be more interesting when you have prepared them yourself. Another tip: Use the recipes you find to make your weekly grocery list. Remember to keep any uneaten food as leftovers to reduce food waste.
Week Four: See a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).
Ask your doctor for a referral to see an RDN. Registered Dietitians are healthcare professionals who specialize in helping patients make the best food choices. Dietitians can help you make your diet extra healthy, while still including some of your favorite foods. Dietitians can also help treat various health conditions like obesity, diabetes, and many others.
Shawnee Health Care offers some programs that can be helpful to you, both during National Nutrition Month and year-round:
• Shawnee has two full-time dietitians, Gail Peterman and Marie Funk. Gail and Marie can help with all of your diet-related needs. Gail Peterman is also a Certified Diabetes Educator. This means she can help with all aspects of managing diabetes, including insulin. Marie Funk also has a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science. She can help you plan the perfect exercise routine. Click here to learn more about Nutrition Services at Shawnee Health Care.
• Lose to Gain is a comprehensive weight loss program offered at Shawnee. This program helps you make lasting healthy lifestyle changes, lose weight, and manage weight-related health problems. It involves a care team, which includes a Board-Certified Obesity Medicine Specialist, a dietitian, and Behavioral Health Specialist. Click here to learn more about Lose to Gain.
• Exercise Essentials is another program offered by Shawnee. As the name suggests, Exercise Essentials teaches you all of the basics of planning a personalized exercise routine that will optimize your results. This program is led by Marie Funk. This class meets Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings at the John A. Logan Fitness Center.
Contributed by Gage McCollum Fink, BS, MAcc,
Master of Science Graduate Student & Dietetic Intern – Southern Illinois University