Medical Advice: National Nutrition Month challenge — ‘Put Your Best Fork Forward’

MARCH IS NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH, and The Florida Department of Health in Polk County is bringing awareness to the importance of a nutritious, healthy lifestyle. National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education campaign that was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to be observed annually in March. The campaign focuses its attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy habits for eating and physical activity.

This year’s theme, “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” acts as a reminder that each bite a person takes counts. Making smart, healthy changes in food choices now can lead to positive health benefits over time. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people ages two years or older follow a healthy eating pattern that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, a variety of proteins, and oils.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy eating can help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, consume important nutrients, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions, such as:

• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Type 2 diabetes
• Cancer
• Osteoporosis
• Iron deficiency
• Dental caries (cavities)

A healthy and balanced lifestyle includes regular physical activity and eating a balanced diet that supplies an individual’s nutrient and energy needs. Achieving and maintaining optimal health is a lifelong commitment to healthy lifestyle behaviors. Lifestyle changes are never easy, but by committing to make one small change at a time they can be achievable. The Florida Department of Health in Polk County’s recommendation for healthier, active living is to follow the 5210 guidelines:

• 5 — Eat five or more fruits and vegetables every day
• 2 — Reduce recreational screen time to two hours or less each day
• 1 — Get one hour or more of physical activity every day
• 0 — Consume zero sugar-sweetened drinks

Remember, one small change a day can lead to many positive health benefits over time. “Put Your Best Fork Forward” this March to find the healthy and balanced lifestyle that works best for you.

To learn more about National Nutrition Month visit


column by DR. JOY JACKSON

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Joy Jackson, an internal medicine physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (DOH-Polk). For more information about DOH-Polk, visit

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