March is National Nutrition Month – Time to Eat Right with Color

National Nutrition Month, initiated by the American Dietetic Association, is a nutrition education campaign celebrated annually in March. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This year’s theme is “Eat Right with Color.” 

According to the USDA, Americans have increased their fruit and vegetable consumption since the 1970s. Most recently, more vegetables are being eaten than before, too. However, the most eaten vegetable is the potato, and a majority of the time potatoes are consumed in French fry form.

Keep it Real

Potatoes are not the enemy, it is the way that we prepare them that can be detrimental to our health or the things we add to them that increase the fat and calories, like adding butter and sour cream. Also, fruit is mostly consumed in juice form. This is not necessarily bad, however I always advise to eat fruit and drink water instead of drinking juice. The reason being that you will get the full amount of nutrients that the fruit has to offer along with the fiber when you eat it instead of drinking calories that will not satisfy you.

The goal of 5-a-Day for better health is still not being reached. On average, Americans are consuming between 3-4 fruits and/or vegetables daily.

Test Those Taste Buds

What are your favorite fruits and vegetables? What about your least favorite?

I challenge you to revisit some of your not-so-favorite produce. Research proves that it takes 20 to 30 tries to acquire a taste for something and appreciate the texture. So, keep trying those brussels sprouts and set a good example for your family while you’re at it. You all will be healthier and happier for it.

A review of more than 200 epidemiological studies recently found people who consumed about 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily were at approximately half the risk of developing cancer of the digestive or respiratory tracts compared to those who consumed fewer than 2 servings a day. A diet rich in produce is proven to decrease risk for many other chronic conditions including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Fruits and vegetables are nature’s fast food, so start chomping.

Let’s Celebrate

I am a registered dietitian and I love all that National Nutrition Month has to offer to help educate the public. Throughout the month of March, I will do a series of blogs discussing the nutritional value of different colored foods; red, orange, yellow/white, green and blue/purple. Fruits and vegetables have almost no fat and minimal calories–but more importantly–they have a lot of nutrients, spanning an array of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. They also hold fiber and water, too.

The goal is at least 5-a-Day for better health.  In general, one serving of fruit or vegetables is either 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked.

How many servings do you get in a day?

Rainbow of Flavors

What are some ways that you get fruits and vegetables in daily? In my household, we play what I call the “rainbow game.” It is a competition between my husband and I where the daily goal is to eat the rainbow of colors of fruits and vegetables.  It makes it fun for us.

Would you like to participate?  If so, take pictures of your fruits and vegetables and post them here.  We can share and exchange recipes too. Looking forward to seeing what you are eating and hearing from you. Happy National Nutrition Month!  Let’s all “Eat Right with Color.”

Photo Credit: Hector Milla