Eating well

National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.

Visit EatRight.org for Nutrition Month resources and info

This year’s theme is “Beyond the Table,” which addresses the farm-to-fork aspect of nutrition, from food production and distribution to navigating grocery stores and farmers markets — and even home food safety and storage practices. 

It also describes the various ways we eat — not only around a dinner table but also on the go, in schools and restaurants, at games and events. This theme also includes sustainability, for instance, decreasing food waste from school and work to home and beyond.

National Nutrition Month: Elevating Health Through Smart Eating

March marks National Nutrition Month, an occasion to spotlight the crucial link between what we eat and our overall well-being. Founded by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this annual event urges us to make thoughtful food choices and adopt healthier eating habits for a better quality of life. Let’s delve into the essence of National Nutrition Month and explore practical ways to prioritize our health through mindful eating.

The Importance of Nutrition
Nutrition forms the foundation of good health, providing our bodies with essential nutrients to function optimally. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats supports our physical, mental, and emotional health while reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Promoting Wellness
National Nutrition Month encourages us to embrace healthier eating patterns tailored to our individual needs. Whether it’s adding more plant-based meals, cutting back on processed foods, or staying hydrated, small dietary changes can yield significant health benefits over time, enhancing our vitality and resilience.

Empowering Through Education
Education is key during National Nutrition Month. Through workshops, seminars, and online resources, nutrition experts provide evidence-based guidance to help people make informed food choices. By debunking myths and offering practical strategies, individuals are empowered to take control of their health.

Celebrating Food Diversity and Sustainability in Eating
This month also celebrates the rich diversity of global cuisines. From Mediterranean dishes to Asian flavors and indigenous foods, embracing culinary diversity enriches our palates and broadens our nutritional horizons. And it also focuses on sustainable eating practices. Choosing locally sourced, seasonal produce and reducing food waste not only benefits personal health but also contributes to environmental conservation.

Clinicians’ Role in Sharing Information
Thirty percent of an individual’s overall health is directly impacted by their health behaviors. Healthcare providers play a crucial role in helping patients improve these behaviors with discussions that help improve nutritional awareness during National Nutrition Month and beyond. By integrating discussions about diet and lifestyle into patient consultations, clinicians can empower individuals to make healthier choices. Providing educational materials, recommending reputable online resources, and offering personalized dietary advice based on individual health needs can enhance patients’ understanding and motivation to improve their eating habits.

Click here to access evidence-based resources (EBRs), from the Health People 2030  (https://health.gov/healthypeople) initiative, to learn more about proven, science-based methods to improve health and prevent disease. Use EBRs to develop programs and policies that are informed by evidence on what’s effective, replicable, scalable, and sustainable.

Resources for Patients

“Food insecurity rose in Indiana over the three-year average from 2020 to 2022, just as it rose nationally in 2022, as boosts in federal nutrition program benefits ended … One in nine Hoosier households struggled to put enough food on their tables. Those who were considered to have ‘very low food security’ in Indiana–those who skipped meals or ate less–were noticeably above the national average at 5.5%,” according to Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

Improving patient’s nutrition knowledge alone is not enough for many of them to impact their ability their health nutrition behaviors. Many patients struggle to pay essential utility and housing costs and often sacrifice food to cover these costs. It is also vitally important to provide resources for patients if we want to impact these behaviors positively.

Find Help (https://www.findhelp.org/), an online support resource, allows you to enter a zip code and then select the area of assistance needed. After entering a zip code and selecting food, you will find local resources to community gardens, emergency food, food delivery, food pantries, programs that help pay for food, available meals, and nutrition education resources.

Indiana 211, available online (https://in211.communityos.org/) or by dialing 2-1-1 or calling (866) 211-9966, can assist with utility payments and immediate and affordable housing resources.

Gleaners (https://www.gleaners.org/), an online resource that specifically provides hunger reduction resources across the state, offers several programs, including providing meals, drive-thru pantries, mobile pantries, senior hunger initiatives, SNAP outreach, and Youth Programs.

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (https://feedingindianashungry.org/), provides connection to 11 food bank resources across the state and other food assistance programs.

Conclusion

As we celebrate National Nutrition Month, let’s commit to nourishing our and our patients’ bodies and minds through smarter eating choices. By making small but meaningful changes to our diets and embracing educational opportunities, we can cultivate a healthier, more vibrant life for ourselves and future generations. Cheers to a month filled with delicious, nutritious meals and a lifetime of wellness!

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