Toi Degree: The importance of nutrition

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 1, 2023

By Toi Degree
N.C. Cooperative Extension

March was National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme was “Fuel for the Future.” Eeryone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits. “Let thy food be thy medicine,” said Hippocrates (a long, long time ago), but the sentiment still rings true. The importance of a balanced diet and exercise cannot be stressed enough. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes the transformative powers of healthy food choices.

I can certainly tell you that it works! I have been exercising on a regular basis for over a year now, and I have seen tremendous changes in my body. However, it wasn’t until I combined a consistent healthy eating regime with exercise that I saw drastic changes. I don’t know where I heard the saying “that you can’t out-train a bad diet,” but it is very true. Physical activity and your eating habits have a direct effect on each other. They both must be in line in order to see the results that you want and then, they will propel you to continue.

Let’s be honest; if you don’t see results, you’re going to give up and go back to what you know. You know it doesn’t work, but it’s what you know and a habit. Habits are easy to make but very hard to change. Continue reading for some things you can do to start changing some of those bad habits.

Move your body

Nutrition doesn’t end at what we eat. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages making exercise an integral part of our lives. Try a new activity like Zumba, swimming or spinning to keep workouts fresh and exciting. I have done Zumba and I loved it; it is an awesome way to get moving, have fun and shed those pounds. Swimming or water aerobics is good for those with mobility or joint issues. The water allows you to move effortlessly without pressure on your joints. Give it a try; you’ll enjoy it so much!

Find inspiration

Feeling stale in the kitchen? Pinterest provides an infinite loop of recipes and inspiration to kick-start any nutrition journey. Picking up a new cookbook or following a cool food blogger works too! There are so many people that you can follow on social media; find one that aligns with your goals and get started.

Meet with a dietitian

They’ll provide you with a detailed meal plan that makes sense for your lifestyle and goals. Many, if not most, health insurance plans cover the cost of dietitian services, and city health departments sometimes offer complimentary services or charge sliding-scale fees. A healthier, happier outlook on life is priceless! This is the route I took, and it has been great. Each week, I receive a plan to follow, and the rest is on me. She checks in and holds me accountable. That has been so helpful; we all need support and someone to hold us accountable. When you find both, your success rate increases, and when you commit… it’s a winning combination!

Here are a few additional ways to eat healthier:

• Go, go H20! Just in case you forgot, I’d like to remind you of this; drinking water helps in almost every aspect of wellness but drinking the recommended amount of water each day can be tough. Electrolyte additives offer the same, if not better, benefits that drinking six or more glasses of water a day would.

• Choose food over supplements. Though there are some who sincerely lack certain vitamins and minerals that can’t be achieved through diet alone, most of the good things our bodies need come from food — not store-bought supplements. Research doesn’t support that supplements are a reliable source of nutrition.

• Opt for color. When in doubt, throw some color on your plate — natural color that is. Bright greens from crunchy vegetables or vibrant reds from tangy fruit will not only make your meal Instagram-worthy, but they’ll also give you a healthy boost and a beautiful plate.

• Pack your lunch. Avoiding typical restaurant or fast-food grease may seem obvious but according to Harvard Health Publishing, what is even more important than that is the ability to control portion sizes when you pack your own lunch. You will also save money.

• Shop the perimeter. Shopping a supermarket’s outside aisles ensures that you’re getting healthy alternatives to processed foods like produce, meat and dairy. When you move inward, most if not all the products contain unnecessary additives and sugar. Just turn away from the quick sale items from the bakery section.

Take a minute to reflect on your physical activity and eating habits. You might find that you need to make some changes, and this month is the perfect time to rest and make them!

Toi N. Degree is associate family and consumer education agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Contact her at 704-216-8970 or

About Post Lifestyles

Visit us on Facebook: and Twitter @postlifestlyes for more content

email author More by Post