IN MARCH, we mark the end of winter and the start of spring. It is also the time when we celebrate National Nutrition Month and turn our focus to healthy eating.
National Nutrition Month is a month-long event, started in 1980 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) and has been going strong to present day. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the leading professional group to support nutritionists and dietitians. Each year, the Academy selects a theme to promote this nutrition education campaign. This year’s theme is Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle, which encourages everyone to adopt a healthy lifestyle that is focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices, and getting daily exercise in order to achieve a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health.
A healthy 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 not about a specific food or activity, but rather a lifelong commitment to healthy lifestyle behaviors. By making small, positive dietary changes slowly over a period of time and regularly engaging in physical activities we enjoy, individuals can maintain a healthy weight.
Lifestyle changes are never easy, but by committing to make one small change at a time they can be achievable. In celebration of National Nutrition Month® we are encouraging residents to commit to making one small change towards a healthier lifestyle. It can be whatever you choose—eat more fruits and vegetables, decrease fat consumption, exercise each day, or drink more water. One easy way to do this is to follow the 5-2-1-0 Guidelines:
• Eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables every day
• Reduce recreational screen time (TV, videos, video or computer games, etc.) to 2 hours or less each day
• Get 1 hour or more of physical activity every day
• Consume 0 sugar-sweetened drinks
So, what will your “one small change” be? Once you’ve decided, write it down, post it at your desk, or tell your family and friends. Before you realize it, you will have become a healthier person and all your efforts will be second nature.
To learn more about National Nutrition Month, visit www.eatright.org/nnm.
article by DR. ULYEE CHOE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Ulyee Choe, an infectious disease physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk) and as a Polk County Medical Association member. For more information about FDOH-Polk, visit www.mypolkhealth.net.