In honor of National Nutrition Month, this is a guest blog post from our Registered Dietitian, Caroline Pullen. Learn more about a day in the life of our on staff RD here.
March is National Nutrition Month® and this year’s theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” According the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “This theme was chosen because it encourages everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.” With the current obesity epidemic, it is important that we can enjoy food while still making healthy choices.
One way to achieve this balance is by practicing mindful eating habits. Mindful eating means taking the time to focus on and enjoy your food. It is also means eating without distraction, so not eating in front of the television or while working on the computer. When we slow down and focus on eating, we are more apt to notice our hunger and satiety cues. We are also more likely to enjoy the flavors of our foods. Think about eating popcorn at the movie theater. Do you remember the taste? Did you pay attention to your fullness cues? Do you even remember eating it? The answer is probably a resounding no to all these questions, because you were not mindfully eating.
Another way is to Savor the Flavor of Eating Right, is to enjoy foods that are naturally delicious! Fruits are naturally sweet and loaded with powerful nutrients. They are great to include as or in desserts. You can use spices instead of salt to flavor your foods. Healthy fats such as avocados can also add a delicious taste and help to keep us full!
Lastly, do not underestimate food’s amazing ability to bring people together. The Nashville Food Project, one of our partner agencies, provides healthy meals to a youth mentoring program that discourages gang membership. Many attend the program for a free meal in the beginning. Over time, they become involved in the program and learn tools to avoid high risk behaviors. On an individual level, we know that family meals lead to better outcomes for everyone in the family. Research suggests that families that eat meals together have lower obesity rates and the children do better in school and are less likely to abuse drugs.
So this March, we hope you take time to not only savor your food and appreciate its health benefits, but also to share a meal with someone you care about to nurture you body and soul.