Danii Gale and Bailey Torkelson, Dietetic Interns
March celebrates National Nutrition Month and the well-established role of nutrition in the treatment of illness, prevention of disease and promotion of healthy lifestyle choices. Created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the largest professional organization for registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) in the United States, National Nutrition Month emphasizes the importance of adopting healthy and sustainable dietary habits. The month also includes National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, March 14, which recognizes and celebrates those in the credentialed RDN profession, who work to provide scientific evidence-based nutrition expertise to patients, clients and communities.
This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month invites individuals to “Go Further with Food” by enhancing health with food choices while minimizing food waste. Key strategies for achieving these goals include:
eating a variety of foods from all food groups
utilizing food safety practices
limiting meals to appropriate portion sizes
utilizing already available foods at home before purchasing more
Household and retail food waste continues to be a pervasive issue in the United States, with a global impact on economy, health and environment. Currently, approximately one-third of edible food in our country is disposed of unnecessarily. Conscious grocery shopping, which describes shopping with a list in hand and not buying more than you need, is another step to help decrease food waste. Additionally, checking expiration dates before purchase may help avoid surprise spoilage. You also can try dating foods in your freezer to make monitoring easier and using those foods with the oldest dates first.
Following good food safety practices can aid in limiting waste of produce. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reminds consumers to:
check items for bruises before purchase
store pre-cut fruits and vegetables in refrigeration
separate produce from meats in storage
wash items before preparation or consumption
use separate, clean cutting boards for produce and meats
While it is important to be cognizant of food waste, be sure to throw out anything that may not be safe to eat.
Shopping locally and seasonally not only supports the community economy; it also opens a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to try. Visiting local farmer’s markets supports a profession that directly produces nutritious foods. Choosing seasonal items is easier on the wallet and provides consumers with top-quality produce.
The Department of Nutrition provided free, on-site nutrition activities throughout the month of March. To close the celebration, the week of March 26-30th will focus on physical activity with a step challenge. All employees are encouraged to participate and the individual with the most steps by the end of the week will win a $25 Amazon gift card! Those interested in participating can e-mail BWHSteps@gmail.com for more information.
For more tips on how you can go further with food, please visit: www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/national-nutrition-month.