MARCH is National Nutrition Month. This year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging everyone to “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” by taking time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to your life.
How, when, why and where we eat are just as important as what we eat. Make sure to enjoy the sights, sounds, memories and social pleasures associated with eating. Family meals promote healthier eating and strengthen family relationships. Give everyone in the family a chance to choose and help prepare a weekly meal, if possible. Sit down at the dinner table together, and turn the TV off. Take time to talk, and learn about the joys and challenges of each other’s day.
St. Patrick’s Day brings food traditions that many people look forward to and enjoy. You may be planning to go out for a corned beef sandwich at a local deli; or for lunch that includes a shamrock shake. Many people enjoy these traditions, but be aware that these treats will take up quite a bit of your daily recommendations for sodium, sugar, calories, and fat. If you do eat processed and “fast” foods, such as these, it is best to do so only once in a while. Be prepared to balance out the rest of your day with healthier options, by choosing foods and beverages with lower calories, no added sugar, and lower fat and salt content. And don’t forget to add fruits and vegetables to your diet whenever you can.
Recommendations are always to try to cut back on food and beverages that are high in added sugar, sodium and saturated fats. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming less than 10 percent of your calories per day from added sugars, and fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (salt) per day. To put this into perspective:
- If you choose a quarter pounder with cheese (1110 mg of sodium) regular fries (110 mg), and 1 packet of ketchup (90 mg) you have over half of your sodium for the day!
- Average daily calorie requirements for moderately active adults (ages 30-50) are approximately 2500/day for men and 2100/day for women. (http://www.webmd.com/diet/estimated-calorie-requirement) A medium shamrock shake has 93 gm of sugar and 660 calories – that equals almost half the daily recommendation of sugar, for a woman, and almost a third of the recommended daily calories.
- The luscious corned beef sandwich from the deli has somewhere between 1500 and 2000 gm of sodium – almost your total daily requirement. You may want to split the sandwich with a friend!
In today’s busy world, we often eat quickly and mindlessly. Instead, eat one bite at a time, and focus on the different flavors and textures. Stop and take time between bites. Eating slowly not only allows you to enjoy your food, but it can also help you eat less by giving your stomach time to tell your brain that you are full.
Healthy People Lincoln County’s mission is to promote partnerships within the community to improve health through advocacy, prevention and implementation of best practices. If you are interested in participating in the community garden grant, please contact Shelley Hersil, Lincoln County Health Department, 715-539-1360 or firstname.lastname@example.org.