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National Nutrition Month Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle


March is National Nutrition Month which is a time for us all to take a moment to be grateful for the plethora of food available to us  and reflect on the healthy habits that we do or do not have as part of a daily routine.  The theme for this year is “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle,” which is acknowledges that a healthy lifestyle includes the foods we eat, physical activity, food safety, sleep, relaxation, and countless other things that make our lives complete.    Finding balance is an important part of wellness, and making healthy choices while still enjoying the foods can make a difference in our physical health as well as our mental well-being.  For most people, eating is a pleasurable necessity, so finding pleasure in nutritious foods is getting the best of both worlds.


So what will your “Bite” be?  Take a minute and think about your healthy and possibly not-so-healthy habits.  If you need some ideas, here are some “mini bites” to get you started.


Switch to whole grains.  Try something new like a whole wheat English muffin, wild rice, or a whole wheat tortillas or barely as part of your meal.   Balance: Find the whole grains that are enjoyable, and make the permanent switch.  If there are some grains that are just not enjoyable, then stick with your standard.  With the goal of making half of the grains you eat whole grains, even changing one or two to whole grains makes a difference!
Low fat or fat free dairy.  While many people will say that 1% or fat free milk “taste like water,” foods like yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream the change is not as noticeable.  Balance: If the taste quality of a higher fat dairy product is something you just can’t compromise, consider what some foods are that you can make the change.  For example, if you can’t do without 2% milk, can you use 1% or fat free yogurt and cottage cheese or watch the portion of how much high fat dairy you are using?  If cheese is your vice, can you watch the portion and frequency that you eat it?  Let’s be honest, we live in Wisconsin and dairy is a part of life, but how much of a part is up to you.
Choose lean protein foods.  If you grew up on meat and potatoes, then meat is likely an expected staple of a meal.  The more we know about nutrition, the more we learn that red meat should be a “sometimes” food versus an “always” food.  Trying different kinds of protein foods can be a really healthy change.  Using plant proteins like nuts, peanut butter, beans, or soy are inexpensive and easy.  Balance: If you are not ready to make the meat change, be aware of the portion.  The protein food at a meal should only take up a ¼ of the plate.  If there is more than that on your plate, cut back add some more vegetables!
Pile the plate with produce. Fresh, canned, or frozen fruits and vegetables should be a part of every meal and ideally should make up ½ of the meal!  With a huge selection available in grocery stores, finding at least a small list of likes should be pretty easy.  During winter months, try the frozen version if it is less expensive.  Balance: If ½ of your plate or a fruit/vegetable at every meal is a lofty goal, start small and build.
Typically, when people start with reasonable goals and work at them until they become a habit, those habits can be hard to break.  In this case, that would be a good thing!  So take a “Bite” and see where it takes you!