By Diann Douglas, Guest Columnist
Madison County Extension Service
It’s time to think about your food choice and its impact on your health; March is National Nutrition Month and the focus is on a color splash for your plate. Sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formally known as the American Dietetic Association) this campaign promotes healthful eating and practical nutrition guidance. Since it takes more than a village to get the message out, we in Extension are glad to be a part of the educational effort. Americans need to understand the food choices you make have a profound impact on your health and well-being.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages Americans to step up today and make healthier lifestyle choices. Small steps add up to a big impact over time. This year’s theme, “Eating Right With Color”, gives us an easy way to focus on improving eating habits; simply include plenty of color on your plate. Adding colorful food to your plate not only makes the meal more appealing, but it guarantees a plate of nutrients. Each colorful food contributes different nutrients; get a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low fat dairy food in each meal.
Get the most nutrition from your calories. Dietitians stress your body needs the right fuel for daily activities. The best way to get what you need is to enjoy a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods from all of the food groups each day. This insures you are getting a daily intake of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.
Eating in moderation will help keep a balance of calories. Most of us take in more calories than we burn during daily activities. Often the culprit is empty calorie food and beverages that are high in sugar and fat, but low in nutrients. Portion control will help balance your intake without cutting favorite foods completely out.
Find a balance between food and physical activity. The USDA 2010 Guidelines for Americans recommends physical activity every day along with eating right. Regular physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes a day helps with fitness, weight management and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. If you can’t do 30 minutes, aim for 10 minutes of physical activity several times a day.
If you have a computer, USDA has a great website at www.myplate.gov. You can customize a daily food guide for your age and weight and set up a free personal food tracking account to help you record daily food intake and physical activity. For more information on food and nutrition, contact the Madison County Extension Service.
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