Put your best fork forward

Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month® as a reminder of the importance of sound eating and physical activity habits. Put Your Best Fork Forward is the theme for 2017, inspiring us to start with small changes in our eating habits – one forkful at a time.

National Nutrition Month® is a great time to take a step back and do some evaluation of your current eating habits. If you’re looking for ways to improve your diet and Put Your Best Fork Forward in sports, academics or extra-curricular activities, here are six simple tips to get you started:

  1. Choose healthier beverages such as water, low-fat milk or unsweetened tea in place of drinks with added sugar. Take at a look at this Think Your Drink The empty calories in beverages can really add up – be mindful about what you are sipping on throughout the day.
  2. Include more fruits and vegetables with your meals and snacks. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories, but high in fiber and other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Aim for five to nine servings per day and choose a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Visit gov to learn more about portioning your plate to make half of every meal fruits and vegetables.
  3. Swap out refined grains and replace them with whole grains. Choose brown rice instead of white, whole wheat pasta instead of regular, and replace your white bread with whole grain bread. Choose oatmeal for breakfast or get creative with some of the ancient grains – quinoa, bulgur or amaranth.
  4. Be mindful of portion sizes. While it’s not imperative to count calories or weigh foods, having a sense for normal portion sizes can help you gradually eat less while still enjoying the foods you love. Want to see how food portions have changed over the last 20 years? Visit nih.gov and take the interactive quizzes, then visit WebMD for a Portion Size Guide.
  5. Learn how to cook and prepare healthy foods. Not only is it healthier to eat at home, but cooking a tasty meal is rewarding and can save you money. Experiment with making healthier versions of some of your family favorite recipes, or take a class to learn kitchen basics or knife skills.
  6. Make healthier choices when eating out. Fast food and restaurant meals are a part of life, so it’s important to make better choices when you’re on the run. Many restaurants and fast-food establishments post menus on their website and many include nutrition information. Plan ahead and make the “better choices” more often. Check out the healthy finds available at some of your favorite restaurants.

Each one of us can choose to make our health a priority, so Put Your Best Fork Forward and take life one healthy bite at a time.

Athletes can train harder and perform better with proper nutrition. Visit WesternDairyAssociation.org to read more about milk as an exercise recovery beverage and learn how to eat for peak athletic performance.