March is National Nutrition Month. This annual nutrition education campaign highlights the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. This year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.” Since we are all a little different, the theme focuses on our unique preferences, tastes, backgrounds, and bodies. When it comes to nutrition and health there is no one universal model for everyone. Here are a few suggestions to help you personalize a healthy plate that meets your nutritional needs.
- Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week. Involve family members in the process and try having a themed meal once a month. Set a regular mealtime. Encourage family members to leave their digital devices behind and encourage mealtime talk to discuss food preferences.
- Get creative with healthy lunch ideas. Try a whole-wheat pita pocket with colorful vegetables and hummus or a low sodium vegetable soup with whole grain crackers. Personalize your plate with your favorite leafy greens and top it off with dried fruit and nuts.
- Try a plant-based meal or a “Meatless Monday.” Meatless meals not only taste great but are a great way to save money. Create your plate using your favorite recipe without meat. For example, try preparing chili with tomatoes, chili powder and a variety of beans.
- Slow Down and enjoy your plate instead of eating on the run. Focus on the food that you are eating and pay attention to the different flavors and textures. Eating slower can have a positive effect on your food intake and may help you feel fuller faster.
- Continue to make healthy food choices and stick to your healthy eating plan when eating out. Read the menu thoroughly and choose items carefully. Consider the nutrition information and choose food items that will make a healthy plate. Healthier options include words such as baked, grilled, roasted, steamed, and broiled.
- Reduce food waste when possible. Before going to the grocery store, check your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to see what foods you have on hand. Cook once and eat twice by using leftovers for a different meal. Reducing food waste can help save nutrients and money.