HCN News & Notes

March is National Nutrition Month

SPRINGFIELD — In celebration of National Nutrition Month, sponsored each March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Americans are encouraged to return to the basics of healthful eating.

This year’s theme, “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” encourages the adoption of a healthy lifestyle that is focused on enjoying healthful foods.

“The goal of this year’s campaign is to draw extra attention not only to food choices, but also to the how, when, and why we eat. National Nutrition Month is a great time of the year for everyone to embrace a mindful eating pattern that includes nutritious and flavorful foods, while taking the time to enjoy the traditions and social experiences food can bring,” said Allison Clark, a registered dietitian in Food and Nutrition Services at Baystate Medical Center.

There is an obvious social component to food. Whether it is a nightly family dinner, a special holiday occasion, or social gathering, food often plays a central role.

“Research shows that family meals promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. What a great way to start traditions and promote healthful eating habits that will last a lifetime. It can be as simple as build-your-own-salad night with a variety of toppings to choose from. Take turns choosing meals and include everyone in the cooking process,” said Clark.

Dietitians suggest taking time to appreciate the flavors, textures, and overall eating experience. In today’s busy world, people often eat quickly and mindlessly. Instead, try eating slowly and savoring the flavor of food.

“Spring is coming, and it’s time to spice up your life. Dust off your shelves and restock your arsenal of herbs and spices. Remember to use dried herbs in cooking and fresh herbs for garnishing,” said Baystate registered dietitian Paul Halloran.

How, when, why, and where one eats is just as important as what they eat. Being a mindful eater can help reset both the body and mind and lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.

“Mindful eating may lead to eating with intention. When you slow down and trust your internal cues, you become aware of physical hunger and let signs of feeling full guide your decisions of when to start and stop eating. Simply taking the time to chew food can slow you down and help you enjoy each eating experience,” said Baystate registered dietitian Lisa Laprade, who noted that eating with chopsticks or putting down the fork between bites are just two examples of ways to achieve slower eating.

“Try to remove distractions from mealtimes, make it a device-free time, and sit at the table,” she added. “Growing or cooking your own food are additional ways to become more connected to your food and may make you more conscious of what you eat.”

According to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Kristen Gradney, a registered dietitian can educate and guide individuals on their food choices while keeping their tastes and preferences in mind. “Registered dietitians are able to separate facts from fads and translate nutritional science into information that you can use,” she said.

Baystate Health’s outpatient Food and Nutrition Services is staffed by registered and licensed dietitians who empower patients to reach their health goals through a personalized nutrition assessment with simple and practical solutions. To make an appointment, call (413) 794-4772.