HUNTINGDON - During National Nutrition Month and beyond, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) encourages everyone to include healthy foods from all food groups in their diet through this year's theme: "Get Your Plate in Shape."
In recognition of National Nutrition Month, J.C. Blair's registered dietitians are hosting several events to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
n The community is invited to a "Get Your Plate in Shape" Lunch n' Learn Program at noon March 20 in the J.C. Blair Education Center. Participants will enjoy a delicious and healthy lunch while talking to J.C. Blair's registered dietitians about healthy food choices. Cost for lunch and program is $5. Reservations are requested by March 13 by calling 643-8833.
n Join the J.C. Blair registered dietitians for a grocery store tour on at 10 a.m. March 27 at Weis Markets, Huntingdon. The dietitians will guide participants through the store teaching shopping strategies, pointing out healthy food items, introducing some new or unfamiliar items and answering questions about puzzling foods (butter vs margarine, etc.). To register for the tour, call 643-8833.
"Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products contain the nutrients we need to maintain healthy lifestyles," said registered dietitian and academy spokeswoman Andrea Giancoli. "Make sure your eating plan includes foods from all the food groups and in appropriate portions. USDA's MyPlate is a great tool to guide and help us be mindful of the foods that make up our balanced eating plan."
Giancoli offers the following recommendations to "Get Your Plate in Shape":
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
n Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange varieties, as well as beans and peas.
n When buying canned vegetables, choose "reduced sodium" or "no salt added" whenever possible. Rinsing whole varieties like beans, corn and peas can also reduce sodium levels.
n Dried and frozen fruits and those canned in water or their own juice are good options when fresh varieties are not available.
n Make sure every meal and snack has at least one fruit or vegetable or both.
Make at least half your grains whole.
n Choose brown rice, barley and oats and other whole grains for your sides and ingredients.
n Switch to 100-percent whole-grain breads, cereals and crackers.
n Check the ingredients list on food packages to find foods that are made with whole grains.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk.
n Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and fewer calories.
n If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.
Vary your protein choices
n Eat a variety of foods each week from the protein food group like seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs.
n Eat more plant-based proteins such as nuts, beans, whole grains and whole soy foods like tofu and edamame.
n At least twice a week, make fish and seafood the protein on your plate.
n Keep meat and poultry portions lean and limit to three ounces per meal.
Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars
n Drink water instead of sugary drinks like regular sodas, fruit-flavored drinks and sweetened teas and coffees. Choose 100-percent fruit juice.
n Compare sodium in foods and choose those with the least amount listed on the Nutrition Facts Panel.
n Season foods with spices or herbs instead of salt.
n Select lean cuts of meat or poultry and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
n Use heart-healthy oils like olive, canola and sunflower oil in place of butter or shortening when cooking.
Giancoli recommends cooking more often at home, where you are in control of what is in your food. "And don't forget that exercise and healthful eating are crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle," Giancoli said. "Choose activities you enjoy like going for a walk with your family, joining a sports team, dancing or playing with your children. If you don't have a full 30 minutes, carve out 10 minutes three times a day. Every bit adds up and health benefits increase the more active you are."
As part of National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' National Nutrition Month website (www.eatright.org/nnm) includes helpful tips, recipes, fun games, promotional tools and nutrition education resources, all designed to spread the message of good nutrition around the "Get Your Plate in Shape" theme.
For those unable to attend any of these events, or those with more individualized questions, nutrition counseling is available at J.C. Blair. J.C. Blair's dietitians do an in-depth evaluation of each client's nutritional needs. Nutrition counseling sessions may be covered by insurance. For more information or to make an appointment, call J.C. Blair's registered dietitians: Katy Petrosky or Caitlin Quinn at 643-7054.