Chocolate and cake are delicious. And, despite the title of this post, there’s no reason to stop eating them. But, like with most things, moderation is key. March is the perfect month to return to a balanced diet of healthy eating!
Here’s why: March is National Nutrition Month (NNM), a commemorative month created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, created to remind people to return to the basics of healthy eating. Initiated in March 1973 as a week-long event, “National Nutrition Week” became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition.
“Put Your Best Fork Forward” is the theme for NNM 2017, and the message is that making small changes during National Nutrition Month and over time, helps improve health now and into the future. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
What Does a Balanced Diet Look Like?
A balanced diet is a cornerstone of health for men, women, and children. Nutrient-rich foods provide energy for our busy lives and help to prevent disease. A balanced diet should include a variety of foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, you should try to include the following in your daily meal planning:
• At least three 1-ounce servings of whole grains such as whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta, brown rice or oats.
• Three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products including low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt or cheese.
• Five to 6 ounces of protein such as lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans or peas and nuts.
• Two cups of fruits — fresh, frozen or canned without added sugar.
• Two-and-a-half cups of colorful vegetables — fresh, frozen or canned without added salt.
• Iron-rich food, such as red meat, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, kale, spinach, beans, lentils, and fortified breads and cereals.
• Calcium rich foods for healthy bones and teeth.
Foods to Limit
To keep weight in check at any age, you should avoid a lot of excess calories from added sugars, fat and alcohol.
• Limit regular soft drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages, candy, baked goods and fried foods.
• Limit alcohol intake to one drink per day. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
• Opt for low-fat dairy and meat products instead of their full-fat counterparts.
• Eat fewer foods that are high in saturated fat — the kind found in fatty meats, sausages, cheese and full-fat dairy products, baked goods and pizza.
Remember, exercise is also an important part of maintaining good health. Regular daily activity helps with weight control, muscle strength and stress management and is key to a balanced lifestyle. If you choose to start or continue your healthy lifestyle, we wish you all our best. It is certainly worth the effort.
If you have specific health concerns, or to check with us before starting a diet or exercise plan, please call Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.