Nutrition Column – Get a Taste for Nutrition

Good taste can also mean good nutrition. That’s the message that the American Dietetic Association hopes to get out this March during National Nutrition Month. The theme of this year’s campaign is "Get a Taste for Nutrition." The campaign is designed to reinforce the importance of nutrition as a key component of good health along with physical activity. Here are the five key messages of this year’s campaign.

– Be adventurous and expand your horizons. Variety is the spice of life in your food choices and is key to good nutrition and health. Be adventurous and explore new tastes, particularly among the wide choices of fruits and vegetables now available to us year-round. Eating a wide variety of foods not only promotes optimal nutrition, it enhances the pleasurable aspects of eating. Choose foods based on flavor, texture and colors that are tasty and healthy. Explore the wide world of nutrition by trying a variety of foods.

– Treat your taste buds. Eating right doesn’t have to mean giving up good taste or your favorite foods. It does mean choosing foods sensibly by looking at the big picture – it’s what you eat over several days, not just one meal on one day, that counts. So enjoy all your favorite foods, just try eating them in moderate amounts.

– Maintain a healthy weight. Managing your weight plays a vital role in achieving and maintaining good health and quality of life. Carrying excess weight may put you at greater risk for health problems. The good news is that healthy eating and regular physical activity make it easier to achieve lifelong weight management and long-term health!

– Balance food choices with your lifestyle. Choosing the right balance of foods helps you get the right combination of nutrients. Two good plans to adopt are the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, eating plan. Either plan will help you balance your food choices with your physical activities to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

– Be active. Be creative and enjoy a variety of ways to stay active to feel your best. There’s no need for expensive equipment or complicated fitness programs. Start by making a list of physical activities that fit into your lifestyle and schedule one every day. Pretty soon, you’ll have developed a personal fitness plan that suits your lifestyle. Walking is one of the best exercises around and only requires good shoes. Fitness, like a long, healthy life, is something we need to work on every day. Gone is the three-times-a-week guideline for exercise. In the newest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s recommend that we engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week and up to 90 minutes a day to sustain adult weight loss. This makes having some variety in our fitness activities more important than ever!

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by Pat Kendall, Ph.D., R.D., Food Science and Human Nutrition Specialist, Colorado State University, Cooperative Extension