May 24, 2024

March is National Nutrition Month, an annual nutrition education and information campaign led by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The campaign brings attention to the importance of informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.

This year’s theme, Fuel for the Future, highlights the importance of fueling our bodies at every age and eating with sustainability in mind. Sustainable eating is choosing foods that are helpful for the planet and our bodies.

A healthful eating plan and regular physical activity can help reduce your risk of developing cancer, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease.

Each March, as part of National Nutrition Month, the academy encourages people to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits that they can follow throughout the year and throughout their life.

Registered dietitian nutritionist and oncology nutrition specialist Amy Bragagnini, a national spokesperson for Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said fruits, vegetables and whole grains provide you with nutrients and dietary fiber that can help lower your risk of developing cancer in the long term.

“Eating a variety of foods from all food groups keeps your meals interesting and healthful,” she said. “Fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruits and vegetables all make your meal preparations easy.”

To help reduce the risk of cancer through nutrition, Bragagnini said to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.

“Add fresh berries to your low-fat or fat-free yogurt in the morning,” she said. “Eat a dark green leafy kale salad for lunch. Stir fry some spinach, broccoli and cabbage to add atop a bed of riced cauliflower for dinner.”

Add legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils, to your meals. Examples would be adding black beans to your morning omelet, for a snack, use a carrot stick as an edible spoon with hummus or make a big pot of bean chili or lentil soup for dinner, she said.

“Include whole grains in your meals. Eat a warm bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit for breakfast, a whole grain barley bowl with baked chicken for lunch and a whole wheat roll with your dinner,” Bragagnini said. “Eat less red and processed meats. Prepare a tuna salad for lunch, a grilled chicken breast for dinner or a meal without meat, such as whole wheat pasta primavera.”

She said to limit the amounts of added sugars and saturated fat and that information can be found on the Nutrition Facts label of foods.

“The best thing you can do to fuel your future and that of your whole family is to visit a registered dietitian nutritionist, the food and nutrition expert,” Bragagnini said. “An RDN will help you develop a personalized nutrition and physical activity plan that meets your health goals now and throughout your life.”

National Nutrition Month started in 1973 as National Nutrition Week, and it became a monthlong observance in 1980 in response to growing interest in nutrition.

The academy is committed to improving health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the academy at eatright.org.

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