The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' key message for week three of National Nutrition Month focuses on the importance of planning your meals and snacks. Choosing healthy recipes and having a thought out plan when approaching the task of grocery shopping are great first steps in mapping out your diet. When starting the process of including healthy choices in your diet, it can often feel overwhelming. Determining what foods are "good for you" and what recipe sources to trust can often be tricky and misleading. Understanding and feeling confident when it comes to ingredients and food labeling can be a great foundation to build your healthy diet choices on.
The first task of reading a food label has been highlighted in this blog before. The February article featuring American Heart Month lists resources for how to read a food label and understand its components. I would encourage you to read the previous article listed and make it a point to read through some of the products you have sitting in your pantry. Awareness is often the first step towards change, and identifying what products you have in your pantry and understanding their components will allow you to be more aware of what your diet consists or where some changes may need to be made. When looking at food labels, key areas to focus on are the serving sizes and % daily values. The article outlined below features important information regarding how to read food labels. Print outs on this topic can also be found on the National Nutrition Month table located in The Pulse Cafe.
Another great way to start being more mindful of ways to include healthy choices in your diet is to identify credible sources of dietary information. One helpful resource when it comes to making dietary changes is finding healthy versions of already loved recipes, however; finding trustworthy websites that provide such recipes can often be tricky. When looking for websites regarding recipes or dietary information in general, it is good practice to check the author or organization for credibility. Websites that do not list the resources for the information listed can be a red flag as well as websites that have numerous ads and pop ups that aim at selling you products mentioned within the recipe. Author credibility is also important. Checking the credentials of the author listed and how the author presents his or her evidence is also a great way to identify websites that may be presenting information that is not evidence based. Listed below are some great websites to obtain recipes from as well as other dietary advice and information:
The last topic I want to cover this week is the importance of choosing healthy foods while eating away from the home. Dining out can often be tricky, but there are some great tricks to make healthy choices while eating at a restaurant. The first trick is to review the menu for any items that may be listed as "healthy" or in a section featuring words that allude to healthier options, such as "light" or "smart option." These items are often lower in calories and prepared in different cooking styles than similar menu items. Speaking of cooking methods, this is another great way to make your favorite dish a bit healthier. Asking for an item to be grilled or baked instead of fried is a great way to reduce fat and calorie intake. Other great variations include asking for sauce or dressing on the side or substituting a vegetable as a side option. Being aware of liquid calories and opting for water at a restaurant can also lower your caloric intake and your bill! Most restaurants are required to have nutrition information available upon request or on the company website. Utilizing the nutrition information provided for certain food items is another great tool you can use while eating out to maintain healthy diet choices. A great summary of tips and tricks to eating healthy while dining out can be found below:
I hope you are enjoying reading about these key messages outlined by AND for National Nutrition Month and feel free to reach out with any questions or comments you may have! See you next week!