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March 1, 2024

National Nutrition Month: Beyond the Table with Lisa Robinson-Mihiar, RDN

by Lisa Robinson-Mihiar, RDN

Starting in 1973 as National Nutrition Week, National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. National Nutrition Month focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

National Nutrition Month is celebrated every year in Marach and it’s the perfect time to reflect not just on what’s on our plates but also how our food choices impact our lives. This year’s theme, “Beyond the Table,” encourages us to take a closer look at our nutrition as more than just the food we eat. From food production and distribution to navigating the places we buy our food. As well as home food safety and storage practices. It also describes the various ways we eat — not only around a dinner table, but also on the go, in schools and restaurants, at games and events. This theme also includes sustainability, for instance, decreasing food waste. Below are some ways you can participate in National Nutrition Month by thinking more deeply about your food, where it comes from and what it does for you.

Ways to Celebrate National Nutrition Month

Mindful Eating

Life change often begins with mindfulness. In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to consume meals mindlessly, rushing through bites without truly savoring the experience. Mindful eating invites us to slow down, engage our senses, and cultivate a deeper connection with our food. By paying attention to hunger cues, savoring flavors, and appreciating the nourishment each meal provides, we can foster a healthier relationship with food and ultimately transform our eating habits. Mindfulness in eating also allows us time to think about and appreciate where our food comes from.

Nutrient-Rich Choices

Beyond simply counting calories, focus on the nutritional quality of your food. Opt for whole, nutrient-dense foods that fuel your body and mind. Incorporate a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats into your meals. These nutrient-rich choices not only support physical health but also contribute to mental clarity and emotional well-being, setting the stage for positive life changes. When picking out your food, ask yourself, what nutrients am I giving my body with this food choice?

Cooking with Purpose

Embrace the art of cooking as a transformative practice. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice in the kitchen, cooking your own meals allows you to take control of what you eat and infuse each dish with intention and love. Experiment with new recipes, explore diverse culinary traditions, and get creative with wholesome ingredients. As you cultivate your culinary skills, you’ll not only nourish your body but also gain confidence and a sense of accomplishment that is more than just putting food on the dining table. Get the whole family involved in cooking too! Kids as young as 2 can help in the kitchen and it’s a great way to get them to try new foods.

Eating for Energy

Food is fuel, and the choices we make directly impact our energy levels and vitality. Instead of relying on quick fixes and caffeine boosts, prioritize foods that sustain energy throughout the day. Incorporate complex carbohydrates for lasting fuel, protein for muscle repair and satiety, and healthy fats for sustained energy and brain health. By nourishing your body with the right balance of nutrients, you should experience more energy and resilience to tackle life’s challenges. Make this change by starting with one meal a day. What can you add to make it more balanced? Try to do that 2-3 days a week and build up from there.

Emotional Eating Awareness

Many of us have experienced turning to food for comfort or as a coping mechanism during times of stress or emotional turmoil. Recognizing the connection between our emotions and eating habits is key to fostering positive life changes. Instead of using food as a Band-Aid solution, cultivate alternative coping strategies such as mindfulness, journaling, exercise, or seeking support from loved ones. By addressing the root causes of emotional eating, you can develop healthier ways of dealing with emotions and create lasting change. Start by checking in with yourself before you eat. Am I hungry? If not, what am I feeling that is driving me to eat? What can I do to help myself in this moment besides eating?

Community and Connection

Food has a remarkable ability to bring people together and foster connections. Whether it’s sharing meals with family, gathering around the dinner table with friends, or joining a cooking class or community garden, prioritize opportunities for communal eating and shared experiences. Building a supportive network of like-minded individuals can provide encouragement, accountability, and inspiration on your journey towards healthier eating habits and a more fulfilling life.

National Nutrition Month invites us to look beyond the table and explore the transformative power of nutrition in our lives. By embracing mindful eating, nourishing our bodies with nutrient-rich foods, cooking with purpose, prioritizing energy-boosting foods, cultivating awareness of emotional eating patterns, and fostering community connections, we can embark on a journey of self-discovery and positive life change. So, try to savor each bite, celebrate the abundance of nourishing foods, and embrace the impact of nutrition in our lives and on our journey towards well-being.

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