The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month in March. A little background about this month is that it started out at National Nutrition Week in 1973, and in 1980 the week turned into a month celebrating, educating, and focusing on good nutrition, eating habits, physical activity and an overall healthy lifestyle. This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month is “Celebrate a World of Flavors, [which] embraces global cultures, cuisines and inclusion, plus showcases the expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists.”
National Nutrition Month encourages positive and healthy nutrition and the Academy provides weekly prompts for the Month of March. Week one focuses on eating a variety of nutritious foods; this includes eating food from all food groups, learning how to read nutritional fact labels, and incorporating your cultural food and traditions. Week two suggests seeing a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, by asking your doctor for a referral, finding an RDN that can specialize to your own needs, and gaining personal nutrition information about your particular health goals. The third week prompts people to plan their food intake, whether that be meals or snacks, creating a healthy and nutritious grocery list and make healthy eating choices when away from ones home. The fourth week focuses on learning how to make tasty food at home by trying new foods, learning how to cook and prepare food, as well as eat foods with your friends or family. Lastly, the fifth week suggests incorporating all of the weeks together: eating a variety of nutritious foods, seeing a RDN, planing meals and creating tasty food at home.
But why is food important to ones mental health you may ask? Well research shows there is a link between food and mental health. A “better diet quality… [is] associated with a lower level of psychological symptoms.” Eating healthy foods, particularly following a Mediterranean diet, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, low-fat/unsweetened dairy foods, raw and unsalted nuts, fish, lean red meats, chicken, eggs, and olive oil can be beneficial. But most importantly, creating a diet that is nutrient dense and “healthy” can help promote wellbeing. As Hippocrates said, “let thy food be thy medicine.”
Below are some resources about National Nutrition Month, how to start incorporating healthy eating habits and healthy food choices in your day to day:
Wrote by: Michelle Zak
Mental Health Counselor Intern