This March it is time to “Get Your Plate in Shape,” which is the theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is striving to educate people on the importance of eating healthier, increasing physical activity, and how to have a more balanced diet. Additionally, this month is not aimed at one category of people, but it is for all ages and sizes. Nutrition and exercise is key to improving your overall health.
It has been proven, in numerous research studies that having balanced meals and exercising regularly has the following effects:
- Longer longevity with fewer health problems
- Prevents type 2 diabetes
- Helps patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy
- Decreases inflammation; interestingly inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis
- Lowers blood pressure and prevents heart disease
- Decreases the risk of various cancers, such as colon and breast cancer
- Decreases weight
- Improves brain function
- Many, many more positive health effects
A shocking statistic from the Center for Disease Control, stated that if patients who did not exercise originally, added physical activity to their lifestyle, the United States would be able to decrease health care costs by 70 billion dollars each year! This is because patients who have a healthy lifestyle have far fewer health complications than those patients who are sedentary. If you would like to help cut these costs and currently do not exercise the recommended time for exercising each day is 15-20 minutes; this does not seem like a lot, but it has been shown to improve overall health. However, if you feel as though you do not have time to go to the gym or exercise for 15-20 minutes during the 1,440 minutes in the day, remember just walking quickly around your office building, during a break or taking the stairs a few times in a row will do the trick!
Just because someone is getting physical activity, they must not forget to eat healthy. Not all healthy foods taste bad or are difficult to prepare contrary to some opinions. The amount of the various foods needed depends on the patient as well as what their goals are, such as losing weight, maintaining weight, controlling blood sugar, etc. However, there are general guidelines put out by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which include:
- Dividing your plate into half. One half needs to consist of a combination of fruits and vegetables that are red, dark-green, orange, peas or beans. If you are in a hurry, frozen and canned vegetables will also work as long as they are “reduced sodium” or “no salt added.” The other half of the plate needs to consist of 100% whole grains, which may include: bread, cereal, crackers, pasta and brown rice.
- Drink fat-free or low-fat milk, which still have all the same nutrients as whole milk, without the extra calories
- Eat a variety of proteins (in small portions) throughout the week, such as chicken, seafood, lean meats, nuts, beans, and eggs. Seafood should be the protein of choice for 2 days out of the week.
- Decrease sodium and calories from added fat and sugar
For more online information about your specific food needs visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov or for more online information about National Nutrition Month visit www.eatright.org. So this month join the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, health care providers, and 1,000’s of other patients in celebrating “Get Your Plate in Shape!”