It’s National Nutrition Month, time to take control

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 6, 2018

March is National Nutrition Month, which is a time to share nutrition education and information.  This annual campaign was created and is celebrated in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The 2018 National Nutrition Month theme is, “Go Further with Food.”

 The theme can be put into action several different ways. One of the ways is shopping locally, which is a great way to add healthy foods to our diets while conserving natural resources. Food purchased at farmers’ markets often is more affordable and tastes better than food you buy at commercial grocery stores because it is locally grown and naturally ripened.

Buying locally grown food also helps conserve natural resources and has a minimal effect on the environment, not to mention that you are supporting your local growers.

 During National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to “Go Further with Food” by preparing meals in advance to enjoy throughout the week.

“Preparing several meals on the weekends can provide balanced meals that can easily be reheated throughout the week,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Kristen Smith. “It’s also a great way to eat healthfully, save time during the week and reduce food waste.”

Smith also recommends cooking in bulk to save money and to portion and freeze meals for later.  You don’t have to reheat the entire dish; you can reheat a single meal, if you’d like.

 “Go Further with Food” by storing food correctly to reduce waste and lower your grocery bill.  According to statistics, 31 percent of all edible food is wasted in the United States; American households throw away nearly 28 percent of fruits and vegetables.

“Far too often, good food goes bad before we get the chance to eat it,” says Melissa Majumdar, registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. “Before going to the grocery store, check inside your refrigerator. Eat what you already have at home before buying more.”

Majumdar suggests freezing extra food such as fruits or meats to extend shelf life, wrapping freezer items in heavy freezer paper, plastic wrap, freezer bags or foil, dating all frozen items, and using the oldest food first.

 It is also important to know and understand how to read a date label to make sure good food isn’t wasted. The “sell by” date lets the store know when it should stop selling a package to manage inventory; “best if used by” is the last date recommended for the customer’s use of a product at its peak quality.  While it is very important to try to use food you’ve bought, if you have any doubts about it being safe to eat, throw it out.

March is a very important month for nutrition because of Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, which is March 14. This is a time used to increase awareness of registered dietitian nutritionists as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services and recognizes RDNs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.

And March is also the time when we celebrate our local farmers. The 2018 Farmers’ Appreciation Breakfast will be held on Thursday, March 15, beginning at 7 a.m. at Trading Ford Baptist Church,  3600 Long Ferry Road.

We are asking all farmers to join us. We would like to honor you for your hard work before the new growing season begins. To RSVP, call the Rowan County Cooperative Extension Center at 704-216-8970 or register online at go.ncsu.edu/2018farmerappreciation. Hope to see you there.

For more information on National Nutrition Month or if you would like tips on improving your eating habits visit:  https://www.choosemyplate.gov/national-nutrition-month

Toi N. Degree is a family & consumer education agent with North Carolina State University & North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Call 704-216-8970 or email toi_degree@ncsu.edu.

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