March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign designed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This month-long effort puts nutrition front and center, and has been celebrated since 1973. This year’s awareness campaign encourages consumers to “Fuel for the Future.” During the month of March, keep in mind that good nutrition does not have to be restrictive or overwhelming. Small goals and changes can have a cumulative healthful effect, and every little bit is a step in the right direction.
Eat with the environment in mind. Buying foods in-season and shopping locally when possible benefit the planet and may also help keep food costs down. Although no pre-determined distance officially defines “local,” a set number of miles from a center point is often used. Because dairy is perishable, processing plants are usually located near dairy farms; meaning most milk in Illinois and Missouri is produced, processed and sold locally.
Stay nourished and save money. When the price of food and other goods goes up, buying healthful foods may not be a priority. Yet many healthy foods are filling, cost less overall and can help manage or reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. “Dairy foods offer high nutrition and economic value. No other beverage comes close to offering the same nutrition as real dairy milk, which contains 13 essential nutrients in every glass,” states Monica Nyman, registered dietitian for St. Louis District Dairy Council.
Eat a variety of foods from all food groups. Fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy all play a role in fueling healthy bodies. Choosing a variety of foods is important, as foods can differ in the nutrients they provide. Eat foods in various forms including fresh, frozen, canned and dried. “Milk, cheese and yogurt pair well with all food groups. Cheese with whole grain crackers, yogurt with fresh fruit and milk with a meal are great options,” notes Nyman. Follow MyPlate’s Daily Recommendations for each food group to get the nutrients needed at each life stage.
Make tasty foods at home. To add variety to a regular eating routine, try new flavors and foods from around the world. Learn cooking and meal preparation skills to save money and discover creative ways to use leftovers rather than tossing them out. Making a large batch by doubling a recipe will save time in the kitchen. Extra portions can be saved for meals later in the week, or frozen in individual containers as leftovers for future use.
Finding ways to include favorite foods while getting needed nutrition is important at any age. Whether cooking for one or for a large family, small changes can provide “Fuel for the Future.” Putting these simple tips into action during National Nutrition Month will help create habits that deliver lifelong health benefits. For more information on dairy’s benefits, visit www.stldairycouncil.org or contact Monica Nyman at 309-681-4629 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram at STLDairyCouncil.