The message to all Americans for National Nutrition Month is “Nutrition from the Ground Up.”
And what could be better as we kick off spring and National Nutrition Month than to get our healthy minds and bodies thinking about planting our feet on the ground, planting seeds in the ground and focusing on our healthy, nutritious lifestyles from the ground up?
Each year during March, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) sponsors a national educational campaign to promote healthy eating and physical activity.
The ADA has celebrated National Nutrition Month® since 1973 to promote optimal nutrition and wellness in the population, while bringing attention to the organization and its nearly 70,000 professional members as the most respected and credible sources of up-to-date, scientifically-sound information on diet and nutrition.
The focus of this year’s campaign is aimed at promoting nutrition through eating better by thinking about ‘building’ nutrition from the ground up. In other words, instead of an overhaul, start by making simple steps to improve your diet and the quality of the foods you put on your plate at meals and snacks. Think about making a small stride for a week starting each Monday this March. Hit the ground running on Monday and carry through a new, smart practice for the whole week. Add one new shift each Monday and see how much you can accomplish in one month with just a little commitment and practice over 31 marvelous March days!
Here are my five top suggestions for the five Mondays of March:
March Monday #1
Have a fruit and/or vegetable at every meal this week. Get into the practice. We’re still falling short on getting those 5-9 daily servings that can help keep us healthy and reduce the risk of chronic diseases of aging like heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Keep it simple: a handful of baby carrots, a side salad, an apple, a couple tablespoons of raisins in your oatmeal, a banana, or blueberries in your cereal. Every meal and keep track for the week. That’s 21 times you’ll have a fruit and/or vegetable that’s nutrition from the ground up.
March Monday #2
Pack your snacks and have a smart snack every day. Focus on whole foods that come from the earth: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. This is the ideal solution for the 4:00 pm energy slump balanced nutrition, pre-portioned for your grab-n-go success. Some favorite combos that give you great nutrition and energy that lasts:
Nuts and dried fruit (1 Tbsp of each in a snack size zip-top bag) any combo: walnuts and dried cherries, almonds and raisins, peanuts and dried apricots
¼ Veggies and hummus or bean dip (1/2 cup)
¼ Sliced apple with 1 Tbsp peanut or almond butter
¼ Blueberries and Greek yogurt
March Monday #3
Eat and buy locally once this week. Try a restaurant that gets its produce, eggs, dairy, fish or poultry from a local farm or local source. Go to a Farmer’s Market or look for a CSA (community-supported agriculture) resource in your area where you can get local garden veggies starting this spring and summer. See if your community has a local ‘slow foods’ organization or Edibles [LINK: www.ediblecommunities.org] publication (free at various locations) that you can pick up to find out what’s going on in your area. Try to continue to buy or support eating local once each week moving forward.
You can look at www.slowfoodusa.org to find out about Slow Foods resources in your area.
March Monday #4
Have a soup or salad everyday. Yes another way to connect with Mother Nature and build the foundation of good nutrition from the ground up. Soups and salads provide our most important nutrient water and contain a wide and delicious variety of possible combinations of vegetables, beans, and whole grains. They offer another terrific daily strategy to get vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and great flavor into your diet.
For soup, try the White Bean, Roasted Tomato and Rosemary Soup
or Deborah Madison’s Red Lentil & Vegetable Soups with Turmeric & Coconut Milk Soup
And for a delicious salad, try the simple-to-make Broccoli, Tomato & Watercress Salad
March Monday #5
Get your hands dirty. Good nutrition and good health can come from connecting (literally) to the ground where your healthy food comes from. Plant some vegetable seeds in the ground, or if the ground is still too cold to plant, start growing a few herbs like basil, chives, and thyme on your windowsill or get your vegetable seedling started inside that you can transfer outdoors when the winter thaws. The easiest to start indoors are tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and zucchini. And a bonus. . .gardening outdoors counts as exercise, too!
Think about March as a jump start to your healthy routine that can last for the whole year ahead. Building great nutrition from the ground up can take on many meanings, but the important thing is to remember to make small, but significant, steps on a weekly basis to improve your nutrition and your health. It’s the cumulative effect of lots of small and fun steps that can add up to great nourishment over time. Happy National Nutrition Month to everyone who believes and craves a healing lifestyle and a glorious kick-off to spring