March is National Nutrition Month® according to the folks at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the “world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals”. With the excesses of the winter holidays behind us, and warmer weather quickly approaching, March is a great time for us to pause and reflect on the type of fuel we’re putting in our bodies.
While it can be tempting to paint in broad strokes about what food is “healthy” versus “unhealthy”, the truth is more nuanced. A good diet for one person looks different from that of another, with factors like activity level, budget, and dietary restrictions playing large roles. Here’s registered dietitian Jim White to tell you more:
There are all sorts of resources out there to help guide your food choices. Start by determining your caloric needs using the USDA’s MyPlate Plan. If you have specific health and fitness goals, you may have heard it’s helpful to calculate your ideal macronutrient targets (carbs, proteins, and fats) as well. Apps like MyPlate and MyFitnessPal let you set and track those macronutrients each day, and you can find other macronutrient calculators online, too (like this one from Bodybuilding.com). That said, we always encourage readers to schedule a meeting with a registered dietician if they want to drill down into the specifics. Find an RD near you on this page.
Once you know your nutritional targets, you have some flexibility in choosing how to hit them. Tracking your food intake with an app or notebook can be helpful in this regard. Some people will have to change very little, while others may need to learn some new recipes, adjust portion sizes, or rethink their snack choices. The Academy provides tips on these topics, and many others, including how to eat right on a budget and how to get more for your dollar by reducing food waste.
Whatever your health and fitness goals are this year, take some time this month to reflect on the role that your diet plays in those goals. Ultimately, you get to choose what you put in your body, and having some guidance can make a big difference. More resources are available on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to replace medical advice or professional guidance. To ensure that you’re choosing food that’s right for you, we encourage you to consult your doctor and a registered dietitian.