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Daily Tips for Eating Right During National Nutrition Month
Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month?
National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to “focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.”
There’s plenty of information available to honor the month, from the National Education Association’s list of 10 free things for National Nutrition Month to the Partnership for Food Safety Education’s four pointers to enjoy fresh foods at home while taking steps to protect yourself from foodborne illness.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
And, in recognition of this year’s theme, “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,” here are 31 tips from the American Heart Association on how to help your family eat right:
Vegetables and fruits are loaded with nutrients and low in calories. They contain fiber and water, which help you feel full. Enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. Fresh, frozen or canned can all be healthy choices.
Whole grains are generally a good source of dietary fiber. Eat more whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread, rye bread, brown rice, popcorn, oatmeal and whole-grain cereal.
Help your children develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits. Be a good role model, make it fun and involve the whole family in lifestyle changes.
Chicken, fish and beans are good sources of protein. Use lean cuts and remove skin from poultry.
Reading food labels can help you make better choices. Learn what information to look for—for example, you want to limit sodium, saturated fat and trans fat but get more beneficial nutrients like dietary fiber.
When you cook at home you have more control over ingredients, so aim to cook at home more often than eating out. Get recipes and tips here.
For snack time, keep fresh fruit and pre-chopped or no-chop veggies (such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas) on hand, as well as single-serve containers of raisins or applesauce. Your family is more likely to grab fruits and veggies over other items if they’re readily available.
Include a serving of fruit at each meal, and try to fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner.
Enjoy fish high in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout and albacore tuna are good choices.
A small handful of nuts or seeds can be a satisfying and healthy snack. Look for unsalted nuts or those with no more than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving size.
Join the gardening movement! Try growing fruits and veggies in your own garden. Even the smallest spaces have room for a container garden. Kids are more likely to try something they’ve grown themselves. Learn about teaching gardens.
Use fresh or dried herbs and spices when cooking. At the table, use salt-free seasoning blends instead of salt. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to add flavor to fish and vegetables.
Try sparkling water, unsweetened tea or sugar-free beverages instead of sugar-sweetened soda or tea. Add lemon, lime or berries to beverages for extra flavor.
Enjoy fruit for dessert most days and limit traditional desserts to special occasions.
Let our heart be your guide when grocery shopping. Look for foods with the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark to make smarter food choices.
Instead of frying foods—which adds excess fats and calories—use cooking methods that add little or no fat, like roasting, grilling, baking or steaming.
Aim to eat less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. As you take steps to reduce sodium gradually, you’ll actually start to appreciate foods for their true flavor. Over time, your taste buds will adjust to less salt and you’ll look forward to how food really tastes!
Make it fun for kids to try new fruits and veggies. Let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable in the grocery store each week, and figure out together how to cook or prepare it. You might end up expanding your own palate as well.
Schedule time each week to plan healthy meals. Keep your recipes, grocery list and coupons in the same place to make planning easier.
Serving size does not always equal portion size. Check the serving size and servings per container because what might seem like a typical portion could actually equal two or more servings. That means double the calories, sodium, fat and cholesterol.
Get your kids in the kitchen! Kids will be more excited about cooking and eating healthy foods when they’ve been involved. Teach kitchen basics by giving family members age-appropriate tasks. Keep a step-stool in the kitchen to make it easier for little ones to help.
Using frozen fish and meats can make meal planning quick and easy. Canned tuna is a great source of protein; often you can save money by buying several cans. Choose the leanest meats and skinless chicken.
Try a meatless meal each week. Think vegetable lasagna or a portabella mushroom burger. Vegetables and beans typically are great sources of fiber. They’re often more affordable and may require less work to prepare than meats or seafood.
Package your own healthy snacks. Put cut-up veggies and fruits in portion-sized containers for easy, healthy snacking on the go.
Be an advocate for healthier kids! Insist on good food choices at school and childcare. Make sure your children’s healthcare providers are monitoring cardiovascular disease indicators like BMI (body mass index), blood pressure and cholesterol. Contact public officials and make your voice heard.
Eating healthy on a budget can seem difficult, but it can be done! Many fruits, vegetables and legumes (beans and peas) cost less than $1 per serving.
Watch out for added sugars. They add extra calories but no helpful nutrients. Sugar-sweetened beverages and soft drinks are the number one source of added sugars for most of us. Limit them to special occasions.
Nearly 1 in 3 kids and teens in the U.S. are overweight or obese. It’s important for parents and coaches to make sure kids have access to healthier foods—including post-game team snacks. All too often, kids are “rewarded” after healthy physical activity with unhealthy foods and sugary full-calorie drinks. Guide your team’s parents and coaches to healthier treats like 100 percent fruit juice, low-fat yogurt, fresh or dried fruit and veggies, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
Eat the rainbow: A fun and tasty way to make sure your family is eating a good variety of fruits and vegetables is to eat as many different colors as you can each day.
Try to eat at least 25 g of fiber each day. Fiber can help lower cholesterol, control blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease. Good sources of fiber include beans, peas, raspberries, unpeeled apples and whole-grain pastas, breads, rice and cereals.
What are some of the pointers you follow to make informed food choices and to eat well?
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tracy L. Barnett
Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
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"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
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"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
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If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
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