This year, the theme for March’s National Nutrition Month is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” — which means we need to take the time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.
When adults are asked about pleasant experiences from their childhood, they often refer to the foods. Whether it’s the smell of an apple pie baking in the oven, sampling sweet strawberries from the garden or biting into a juicy corn dog at the fair, life is full of delicious memories.
We can — and should — appreciate food for the many pleasures it brings. And you don’t have to sacrifice good health to do that. In fact, these concepts should help improve both your mental and physical health.
Enjoy food traditions and social experiences
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There is an obvious social component to food. Whether a nightly family dinner, special holiday occasion or social gathering, food often plays a central role. Eating together strengthens family relationships.
Appreciate foods’ pleasures and flavors
Take time to appreciate the flavors, textures and overall eating experience. In today’s busy world, we often eat quickly and mindlessly.
Instead, try following this tip to help you savor the flavor of your food: Eat slowly and focus on one bite at a time. Eating slowly not only allows you to enjoy your food, but it can also help you eat less by giving your stomach time to tell your brain that you are full.
Develop a mindful-eating pattern
How, when, why and where you eat are just as important as what you eat. Eating is a natural, healthy and fun activity for satisfying hunger.
In our diet-obsessed culture, eating is often guilt-inducing instead of enjoyable. Being a mindful eater can help you reset both your body and your mind and lead to an overall healthier lifestyle. Step away from your desk or the television when you eat, so that you can focus on the meal and its tastes.
Consult a registered dietitian nutritionist
It’s also essential to make informed food choices based on your individual health, your risk factors and nutrient needs.
A registered dietitian nutritionist can educate you and guide your food choices while keeping your tastes and preferences in mind. RDNs are able to separate facts from fads and translate nutritional science into information you can use for your health and longevity.
Find a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area by visiting eatrightidaho.org/find-a-rd.
Visit knowledgeable websites
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.
The academy’s website at eatright.org, for instance, includes helpful articles, recipes, videos and educational resources to spread the message of good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle. You can also find the academy on Facebook and on Twitter. Use the #NationalNutritionMonth hashtag to find the information being shared about National Nutrition Month.
SeAnne Safaii, Ph.D., R.D., L.D., is an assistant professor at the University of Idaho Dietetics Program and past president of the Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This article cites information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics prepared for National Nutrition Month.