It’s March, National Nutrition Month — how are you celebrating? Many Americans think of this month as one dedicated to the Irish, but for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, it’s the month devoted to highlighting the important role of healthful eating and physical activity to manage weight and prevent chronic disease. This year, NNM’s theme is ”Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,” as consumer research has confirmed that taste overrides nutrition as the main reason why one food item is purchased over another.
Social, economic, emotional, and health factors play a role in consumers’ food choices, but the foods people enjoy are likely the ones they eat most. That’s why the focus for this year’s NNM is on how to combine taste and nutrition to create healthy meals that follow the Dietary Guidelines recommendations. Are you ready to jump start your own celebration of NNM? Here are six easy ways you can make March your healthiest month yet.
1. Meal-planning March
Make March the month that you commit to meal planning and preparation. Studies show that when consumers already have prepped, healthy meals on hand, they’re less likely to give in to the pressure of the drive-thru after work or succumb to frozen food cravings. In addition, when you plan to eat at home, you have more control over the ingredients in your meals. Many restaurant meals contain ingredients that we don’t know (and don’t want to know about), but cooking your own food ensures that you know exactly what is going into your mouth and your family’s mouths. You can also control serving size when you eat at home, which is something consumers often struggle with when they eat out or consume prepackaged dishes.
This month, pick a day each week to schedule what you will have for dinner (and even lunch) each day. That way, you can go to the grocery store with a list in hand and you can even get ahead on food prep if time allows. Pick three or four dishes to make for the week and then decide what days you’ll have leftovers. This ensures that no food goes to waste, and you’ll save yourself time, money, and energy.