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Improve your nutrition from the ground up

March is National Nutrition Month®

Nashville – It’s common knowledge that a healthful diet is an important part of a healthful lifestyle, but many people have trouble figuring out what to do when planning an overhaul of their diet. The Department of Health is reminding Tennesseans during National Nutrition Month® this March that an easy way to focus on eating better is to start with the basics.

“By starting slowly and giving yourself a good foundation, you can work toward a healthier life,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “Change doesn’t have to be dramatic to make a difference.”

The theme for National Nutrition Month® 2010 is “Nutrition from the Ground Up.” The goal of the observance is to encourage people to make informed food choices and develop sound eating habits. TDOH offers these suggestions to improve your nutrition:

  • Focus on fruits and veggies. Take a good look at your current diet and you’ll probably realize you’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Add a serving each day to one meal and increase it every few weeks. Adding more of these foods to your diet is important whether you buy frozen, canned or fresh. Visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.com for recipes and more information about including fruits and vegetables in your meal plan.
  • Look for locally grown foods. From farmer’s markets to community-supported agriculture, you have many options to find new, fresh foods in your area. This can be a great way to eat well and support your community at the same time.
  • Make calories count. Too often, people think of foods as “good” or “bad” and that only those on the “good foods” list are OK to eat. When choosing between options, focus instead on the one with more of the vitamins and nutrients you need. Foods with the fewer calories aren’t always the healthiest options. To figure out how many calories you need to achieve a healthy weight, visit www.mypyramid.gov.
  • Test your taste buds. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. Those are the basics, but within this wide range there are always opportunities to try new things.
  • Expand your horizons. Try a fish you’ve never eaten or find a new vegetable recipe. By testing yourself, you might find new healthy favorites to add to your regular grocery list.
  • Trick yourself with treats. A healthful diet doesn’t mean deprivation. If you have a sweet tooth, have fruit and yogurt for dessert. If you want a snack in the afternoon, have some trail mix or nuts. There’s no reason to go hungry just because you’re making healthful changes.

The Department of Health has other resources to help you improve your nutrition. Check out our online cookbook full of simple, healthy recipes that can be prepared with common, inexpensive ingredients. Find the cookbook at http://health.state.tn.us/nutrition/recipies.html.

TDOH also employs registered dietitians at health departments across the state. These health professionals provide counseling on issues from infant nutrition to diabetes and obesity for adults. You can also submit a question online through the “Ask a Dietitian” service. Submit your question with the form at http://health.state.tn.us/nutrition/ask_diet_form.html.

Get Fit Tennessee also offers free and simple tips for improving nutrition every day. You’ll find examples of proper portion sizes, a food journal to help you track your eating habits, and you can sign up to receive a daily e-mail tip to help you lead a more healthful life. Learn more by visiting the Get Fit Web site at www.getfittn.com and clicking “Nutrition.”

National Nutrition Month® is an education and in formation campaign created by the American Dietetic Association. For more tips on building your healthful diet from the ground up all year long, visit www.eatright.org and click “For the Public.”

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