Although many people like to set resolutions and try turning over a new leaf around the New Year, March is also a great time for a healthy focus, after the long winter is almost over. At the beginning of springtime, this month is often a time when people feel that the winter is ending, the sun is beginning to shine and hope is beginning to rise.
With this in mind, March has been declared National Nutrition Month–a time for people to start learning and thinking a bit more carefully about what kinds of foods they put into their bodies.
History of National Nutrition Month
National Nutrition Month is celebrated every March and is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the United States. National Nutrition Month focuses on helping people to make correct food choices as well as developing good eating and exercising habits.
1973 saw the launch of Nutrition Week by presidential proclamation (from Richard Nixon), and by 1980 it had been transformed to cover the entire month of March. Federal and state governments as well as the American Dietetic Association (as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics was then known) enthusiastically embraced National Nutrition Month as an excellent vehicle to promote healthy eating and also as a way to educate the public.
National Nutrition Month is centered around a different theme each year, and during the years 1977 to 1980, Nutribird, who had a bright green cabbage for his head and a bold orange carrot beak, was the character who acted as the sponsor for the month.
Themes for National Nutrition Month have included:
- 1973. Invest in Yourself—Buy Nutrition
- 1978. Nutribird Says: Eat a Balanced Diet Every Day
- 1989. A Lifetime Decision—Choose Good Nutrition
- 1994. Nutrition Fuels Fitness
- 2002. Start Today for a Healthy Tomorrow
- 2014. Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right
Food can be an exciting adventure and National Nutrition Month serves to help people discover this by focusing on healthy cooking and eating during this month. Get ready to celebrate National Nutrition Month!
How to Celebrate National Nutrition Month
Get on board celebrating this month for 31 whole days in a variety of ways! Try out these interesting ideas for enjoy this month and sharing it with others as well:
Visit Nutrition Websites
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics makes it easy to celebrate National Nutrition Month as they have a bundle of activity hand-outs and nutrition tip sheets available for children and adults. The experts at this organization suggest trying out a new healthy food each week to give variety, eating at some of the many ethnic restaurants because they often offer lots of healthy options, and varying cooking methods which gives foods a different taste to keep things interesting.
Eat More Fresh Foods
This is a great month to begin finding fresh fruits, veggies and other foods at a local grocery store. Even better, visit a farmers’ market if the weather permits in the area. Don’t be afraid to ask the vegetable seller to share ideas for ways that certain foods should be prepared, or look up some recipe ideas online.
Avoid Fast Food
One way that many people can make an easy change is by cutting out fast food during National Nutrition Month. If it’s a matter of convenience, either take a few minutes to pack a lunch in the morning or choose a quick meal at a place that serves a healthy salad or soup option.
Plant a Garden
March is a great time to start thinking forward into the coming year. If it’s still cold out, that’s okay. Seedlings can be begun inside and then moved outside when the weather gets warmer. Some easy to grow and healthy plants include lettuces, beans, radishes, peas, carrots, cucumbers and kale.
Start during National Nutrition Month and then have a whole summer full of healthy and delicious vegetables to help carry things further on throughout the year. Try planting different vegetables from every color of the rainbow!
Choose Whole Grains
One simple but super healthy substitute that doesn’t require much effort is trading out the empty calories of white rice, white bread and plain pasta for whole-grain versions. Brown rice and whole wheat or oat bread don’t spike the blood sugar as much and take longer for the digestive system to break down. A great way to sneak a serving of vegetables into a meal is by serving healthy spaghetti squash instead of pasta that is filled with empty calories.
Learn Fun Facts About Foods
To make eating healthily more interesting, consider learning some fun food facts that will keep things interesting and aid anyone in eating in a more nutritional manner:
- Banana plants are members of the herb family.
- Strawberries contain more vitamin C than oranges.
- Coffee beans are the seeds of the fruit of the coffee plant.
- One can of soda contains around 10 teaspoons of sugar.
- A hardboiled egg will spin but a soft-boiled one won’t.
- A medium-sized potato is a similar size to a computer mouse.
- Only wash grapes just before you eat them as they keep better unwashed
Enjoy National Nutrition Month every March, eat well and live healthy, and then carry on for the rest of the year!