By: Rebecca Mason, RD
This year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has chosen the theme “Put Your Best Fork Forward” for National Nutrition Month as a reminder that making small changes in our eating habits can make a difference over time. Working with and learning from a Registered Dietitian, advocates of evidence-based nutrition and positive lifestyle changes, can help you make sustainable, healthy choices.
My colleagues and I put together a list of our most loved healthy eating tips to help you eat like a nutrition professional this month – in honor of National Nutrition Month – and all year long.
- There are no good or bad foods, just bad diets. All foods can fit into a healthful diet pattern, as moderation is key. – Lisa Lorenzi, MS, RD
- Set realistic goals. It’s not realistic to change habits and behaviors overnight. I encourage working in baby steps and building on goals over time. For example, if you love ice cream and eat two cups of ice cream each night, it’s probably not realistic to say you’ll just stop eating ice cream. Instead, work in small steps such as reducing to one cup of ice cream, and then to having ice cream five nights per week instead of seven nights. Continue slowly reducing the intake over time. This can be a realistic way to change habits and behaviors over time so that you’re more likely to stick with the change. – Lindsey Hughes, MS, RD, CNSC
- I like to encourage people that eating healthy requires planning ahead instead of reacting to hunger. But that’s no different than planning ahead to be successful with other healthy habits like getting adequate sleep, exercising and managing stress – Marta Johnson, RD, CNSC
- There are four foods that everyone should eat every day: beans, leafy greens, berries, and flax. I’m serious. Eat them every day. They’re good for you. – Gregory Stacey, MA, RDN
- Everything in moderation.- Kandi Lannen, RD
- My best advice for those who want to make a healthy change is to find ways to keep motivated. I encourage people to do this is by signing up for a magazine about fitness or healthy cooking, new information coming to your door can be very motivating. You could also find a buddy to challenge; create a new challenge every week or every month like cooking a new meal or getting in 5 fruits and vegetables a day and help each other stay motivated. – Angela Fobar, RD
- Eat the rainbow every day. Aim for five or more combined servings of fruits and vegetables in the deepest, most vibrant colors to get a powerful boost in phytochemicals and antioxidants. – Stephanie Patterson, RDN, CSO
- As parents, it’s not our job to force our kids to eat all their vegetables or other healthy foods. Rather, it’s our job to model balanced eating and provide our children with the opportunity to appreciate healthy food so the motivation to consume them is internal, not external. – Sarah Flessner, MS, RD, CSP
- A healthy gut will boost your immune system and is linked to weight loss and improved mood. Feed your gut with prebiotics found in foods such as onions, raw asparagus, and garlic as well as probiotics found in kefir and greek yogurt. – Lacey Crumback, MA, RD
- I encourage my clients to think about what foods should be ‘everyday foods’ and what foods should be ‘every once and awhile foods.’ Fruits, vegetables and whole grains should be eaten every day, while high- fat snacks, sweets and desserts should be limited. Also, it’s helpful to plan your meals for the week; you are more likely to make better choices. – Stephanie Allshouse, MS, RD
- Enjoy the cake, french fries and candy, but remember you must balance it with a diet rich in complex carbs, protein, vegetables and plenty of exercise. – Katara Jackson, RD
- Focus less on calories, protein, fat, and carbs. Instead, think about where your food comes from. If it came from a factory, there’s a good chance it’s not good for you. If it came from the ground, it’s more likely to nourish your body. – Brittany Miller, RD
- Drink water. Water is essential for numerous metabolic processes, helps clear our body of waste and helps prevent brain and muscle fatigue. Additionally, signs of dehydration can closely mimic those of hunger, so by making sure you’re hydrated you’re less likely to consume excess calories. – Rebecca Mason, RD
This year, celebrate National Nutrition Month by “putting your best fork forward” and making small changes that together can have a large impact for you and your family’s health and well-being.
About the Author: Rebecca Mason, RD, is a registered dietitian and Health and Wellness Coordinator in the Wellness Department at Priority Health. She is passionate about helping families and individuals improve their health through nutrition education and nutritious food access. Rebecca is certified in adult weight management and has a background in both clinical nutrition and wellness programming.