National Nutrition Month 2017: Putting Your Best Fork Forward

Before I dive in to today’s post, I wanted to announce that I am so honored to have been selected as one of ten finalists in the #WildYourSmoothie contest with my Wild Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Smoothie! You can vote here daily from now through March 13, 2017 at 3pm EST. Your support and votes are greatly appreciated! 

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? Woohoo! Three cheers for nutrition! Each year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics puts out a theme for the current year’s National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”. I wanted to share a few ways we can all put our best forks forward, for ourselves as busy mamas, and for the beautiful families we nourish. And, spoiler alert, it all comes back to nutrition to fit YOU and your lifestyle!

Find nourishing foods that you and your family love, and include those as a regular part of your eating style. A lot of people get caught up in the what they think they “should” be eating, and this perceived hierarchy of food “betterness”. Let’s just set the record straight that there are truly no “good” foods or “bad” foods – food is food. That said, find nutrient-loaded foods that you love and work for you! Not a fan of quinoa but love brown rice? That’s totally fine! Not too keen on kale but love spinach? Dig in!

Play with new ingredients. This is one of my favorite tips for individuals and for families. If you’re in a rut of same old, same old, try picking up a new-to-you vegetable or fruit at the store this week. It’s fun to branch out! If you have young children or picky children, this can be a fun way to get them involved. Allow them to pick out one or two fruits or vegetables the whole family can enjoy that week. When offering that food as part of a meal or snack, remind them that they helped to choose it! You can even make a game of it and the whole family can go around and give a thumbs up or thumbs down, or a 1-10 number ranking.

Prepare more meals at home. Listen – I get it. We’re all super busy, right? No matter if you’re a working mom, stay at home mom, work at home mom, or whatever, the one thing everyone seems to need more of is time. Find some quick-cooking meals you can keep in your back pocket so you can get a balanced dinner on the table in a jiffy. Keep it simple – whole grain pasta with ground turkey, chopped veggies, and sprinkled with a little cheese. Or a veggie and cheese egg scramble paired with some whole grain toast and fruit. Start small – wherever you are today, that’s fine. Try a goal of preparing just one more meal at home each week than you are now.

Check the portion sizes. Now I am 100% not about playing food cop AT ALL, but I do just want to remind you to check portion sizes. The My Plate tool is a great resource to check and make sure you’re consuming appropriate portion sizes and number of portions from all food groups. Remember – even healthy foods consumed in excess is still excess.

Make activity a natural part of your life. Whether it be going for family walks after dinner (which can actually aid with digestion and postprandial (after eating) blood glucose regulation) or exploring local and state parks with your family on the weekends, integrate an active lifestyle into everyone’s life! Find what works for YOU – maybe you love yoga and hate running. That’s okay! Or you’re all about weight lifting, or hiking, or playing tennis. Anything is okay, as long as it’s getting you up and moving! Something I’ve been trying to be mindful of for myself, too, is embracing fitness as a way to be “selfish” and do something just for me and get some alone time. As a new mom, it’s super easy to focus all your energy on everyone and everything else around you. Finding a fitness activity you enjoy, even if it’s something you can only do 20-30 minutes a day, is way to physically and mentally rejuvenate yourself. Gotta take care of ourselves, too, mamas!

Talk to a registered dietitian (or lactation counselor, for my breastfeeding mamas out there!). There’s a lot of nutritionists, nutrition coaches, wellness coaches, and more out there. To get evidence-support guidance, find someone with the credentials of “RD” (Registered Dietitian) or “RDN” (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) – used interchangeably. You’ll know that these experts have undergone at minimum a four year degree in nutrition or dietetics from an accredited university, an approved dietetic internship that provides a minimum of 1200 supervised practice hours, often times graduate work or a graduate degree, and passing a national registration examination. Additionally, anyone with RD/ RDN credentials has to obtain continuing education to keep their credentials active so their expertise is always at the top of current research.

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