Originally posted March 10, 2020
March is National Nutrition Month®! So, for this month’s Food for Thought Series, Wondr Health instructor and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Meridan Zerner, shares strategies to help you enjoy every bit (or bite!) of your food. Especially your favorite ones.
For a dietitian, March is THE best month… rivaling those other holiday months. Why? Because March is National Nutrition Month®, of course! It’s a whole month dedicated to the care and feeding of YOU. It even comes with fireworks, a parade, prizes, and a cool theme… OK, it’s just the cool theme. (But a dietitian can dream, right?)
The 2020 theme is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite.”
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics explains this idea best saying, “Good nutrition doesn’t have to be restrictive or overwhelming. Small goals and changes can have a cumulative healthful effect, and every little bit (or bite!) of nutrition is a step in the right direction.”
This year’s theme includes several key points:
- Eat a variety of nutritious foods
- Plan out meals each week
- Learn skills that can help you create and savor the flavor of a truly delicious meal
Sound familiar? These habits parallel much of what you learn with us in the Wondr program.
We think that every month can be devoted to becoming more mindful of what we put in our bodies, including your favorite foods!
Food as medicine
For many Wondr participants, the goal is weight loss, which, as you know, dramatically improves many, many health challenges. Additionally, there are other food-based opportunities that people can tap into to help manage things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
I call this “food as medicine.” To be clear, food does not take the place of any medicines that are needed, but certain foods work together with medicine to profoundly and positively affect health.
An apple a day
You may be familiar with the phrase about the apple keeping the doctor away, and it has some truth to it as a good example of “food as medicine.” Apples are a rich source of a variety of phytonutrients. Studies have linked the consumption of apples with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, and cancer.
Certainly, green is good when it comes to vegetables as they are packed with nutrients, and newer research shows that veggies are particularly good for our brains.
Researchers found a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline for people who ate more green leafy vegetables (like spinach, kale, collards, and mustard greens). The people who ate just one to two servings of leafy greens per day had the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger than those who ate none.
Spice it up!
Seasonings and spices add flavor, additional taste satisfaction, AND provide a variety of health benefits from boosting immunity to controlling blood sugar.
The American Institute of Cancer Research provides helpful guidance around which spices can be the most helpful: www.aicr.org
For example, ginger is a popular spice that has been shown to help with nausea as well as provide anti-inflammatory properties that can help with pain management.
Give it a go
It’s estimated that 80% of disease can be tied to food and lifestyle choices—emphasis on the word choice. This month and beyond, you can choose to add a salad or a dark green veggie (that you like) and use your Wondr Health skills to enjoy it… and as a bonus, rest assured that you also gave your body a “food as medicine” boost!