March is National Nutrition Month and is the perfect time of the year to adopt a healthier lifestyle and to "Put Your Best Fork Forward"."Put Your Best Fork Forward" is the theme for this year's celebration, which also includes Registered Dietitian's Day on March 11. National Nutrition Month, was created in 1973 by the American Dietetic Association (now known as Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics -- AND) to promote healthful eating and sound physical activity behaviors."Everything we eat and drink matters to our overall health," says Capt. Kelly Perez, a registered dietitian and the chief of nutrition care at Medical Department Activity Alaska. "During this month especially, I encourage our beneficiaries to make some small, sustainable changes in their routine to help improve their lifestyle and health."To make these changes, Perez suggests focusing efforts on where you can make the most improvement and starting there."If you splurge on 'treats' too often, or visit the vending machine every day, make that a change," says Perez. "It's appropriate to treat yourself once a week with something you really enjoy, but not every day."Perez promotes eating healthy mini-meals that provide a good mixture of carbohydrates, fiber, lean protein, as well as vitamins and minerals. She suggests eating two of these mini-meals each day in between meals."When going for a snack, skip the chips and candy. Instead go for some fresh fruit and reduced fat yogurt," says Perez.According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the ChooseMyPlate.gov website, which replaced the original food pyramid most of us grew up with, we should aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day."If you're not quite there yet," says Perez, "try increasing your vegetable and fruit consumption slowly. You can add a bag of frozen vegetables to casseroles or try adding an extra serving of a different vegetable at lunch or dinner."Eating more fruits and vegetables will not only provide more fiber, vitamins and minerals but the fiber will help you feel more satisfied, preventing the urge to overeat.
If eating healthy isn't an issue for you, try incorporating more exercise into your lifestyle by starting small."Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week," says Perez. "By shooting for 30 minutes a day and starting slow you can work your way up to more advanced programs for even better health. The most important thing is to get moving."For any questions for a Registered Dietitian the food and nutrition expert, or to discuss health eating and properly fueling a body, visit with your PCM for a referral to the Outpatient Nutrition Care Clinic at Bassett Army Community Hospital.