Making healthy food choices to maintain good health isn’t enough, you must make informed food choices that meet your own special nutrient requirements within your calorie limits.
"People often overestimate their calorie requirements and underestimate how many calories they burn," said clinical dietitian Sheila Sullivan, RD, of Baystate Medical Center.
Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages Americans to return to the basics of healthful eating through National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme, “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” encourages consumers to adopt a healthy lifestyle that is focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed choices and getting daily exercise. The goal is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.
Learn your needs
Age, gender, body type, family history, existing health conditions and daily routines all play a factor in determining which foods we should eat more of and which we should avoid when trying to optimize our health.
"A registered dietitian can help you learn your nutrient requirements and limits and teach you how to follow a nutrition plan that is right for you," Sullivan said.
Find your foods
Understanding what is in food is essential to making informed choices while building an eating plan that meets your tastes.
"Good food takes some thought, ingredients on hand, some time and some labor. The new dietary guidelines to be released are again encouraging us to eat more veggies, but our intake has actually decreased over the past few years. Frozen veggies are an easy way to incorporate more into the diet, they just need a little doctoring up with some added garlic and olive oil," said clinical dietitian Paula Serafino-Cross of Baystate Medical Center.
Know the facts
When food selections go beyond whole foods and into packaged foods, understating what fits and what doesn’t may not be as clear.
"Look at the Nutrition Facts Label to be sure your choices are staying within the guidelines for health Americans and fit your specific needs. Eat whole foods, the fewer ingredients the better," said clinical dietitian Rubina Husain, RD, of Baystate Medical Center.
Regular physical activity is a must
Most health benefits come from at least 150 minutes a week of moderately intense physical activity, with added advantages from increased exercise and intensity. Endurance and muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights, working with a resistance band or doing pushups are also beneficial.
"Fitting exercise into a busy lifestyle may seem difficult, but just walking will help you to meet your exercise goals," said clinical dietitian Jeff Sautter, RD, of Baystate Medical Center.
Making the right food and nutrition choices is a necessary part of biting into a healthy lifestyle. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.