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National Nutrition Month should be all year long

PaulaBy Paula Bowers-Sanchez

March is National Nutrition Month, a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The focus is on making informed food choices and developing good eating and activity habits.

The academy is hailed as the most valuable and credible source for the most up-to-date, scientifically based food and nutrition information.

So I have two questions for you: First, are we supposed to eat healthy and take care of ourselves only in March? And second, are you making good choices when it comes to food?

The first one is easy. National Nutrition Month in March is only a reminder of what we should be doing every single month of the year. If you are serious about shedding unneeded weight and living a healthy lifestyle then every month should be your personal National Nutrition Month.

The second question is more complicated.

We all have cravings for food that is not necessarily good for us. My favorites are anything chocolate, pizza and sweet tea. However, the academy suggests dietary guidelines to eating for a healthier you.

It is suggested that we eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and seafood, and to use vegetable oils (canola, corn, olive oils). They also recommend that we consume less added sugar, solid fats, refined grains and sodium.

I’m not saying you have to give up those foods we all love to indulge in, but save them for one day a week. You can enjoy many foods filled with great nutritious benefits by incorporating nuts, salsa, reduced fat cheeses and whole grain crackers – one of my favorites is Boar’s Head Honey Maple Turkey rolled up as a snack, or yogurt with seasonal fruit or nuts.

Make up baggies with nuts, cut up veggies to take to your office or keep in your car as a snack for those times when you need a little something to hold you over and to avoid the temptation of going through a drive-thru. Cut back on sugary drinks like soda and juice, and try to drink water throughout the day.

Try this trick: When I feel like having a “bad choice” food, I ask myself if it’s worth it. Do I really need those empty calories or do I really need that much fat? I usually change my mind and grab something more nutritious. And, on the other hand, if I’ve been eating healthy, I might end up having it anyway – I just don’t over-indulge.

And as always, don’t neglect to get out and walk, run, use the gym, ride a bike. Get those muscles moving, burning calories. The energy you get will make you feel amazing every month of the year.

 Paula Bowers-Sanchez is Seminole Tribal member and a graduate of New York University.