If you are what you eat, March is the month to make a great image for yourself. That’s because March is National Nutrition Month! This annual campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages the public to focus on making informed food choices and developing healthy habits for eating and physical activity. The Academy also promotes the use of a registered dietitian to help develop and implement a healthy eating plan.

The theme for 2022 is “Celebrate a World of Flavors,” a concept that advocates for incorporating dishes from cultures across the world to expand your diet with new foods and flavors while celebrating our vibrant diversity.

Why Does Nutrition Matter?

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates, maybe

Although experts argue on who actually said it, the accuracy of this famous quote has never been in question. Nutritious eating is a key component of overall health and its importance can not be understated.

There are countless benefits to good nutrition. A healthy diet helps with everything from providing daily energy to preventing diseases to maintaining vital organs. It’s essential for healthy pregnancies, childhood brain development, and proper growth. A nutrient-rich diet can improve mental health and prevent cognitive decline. Good nutrition can even help patients control chronic conditions like diabetes when combined with proper treatment and regular blood sugar testing.

What is “Good” Nutrition?

In simple terms, good nutrition means eating a diverse diet that gives your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy, feel great, and perform at its best.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t look the same for everyone. We all have unique dietary needs, especially those with food allergies or conditions like diabetes or hormonal imbalances that require or restrict certain foods. However, there are a few best practices of proper nutrition that can help guide you in making smarter dietary decisions:

  • A healthy diet includes a good balance of healthful foods from all food groups: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and low-fat dairy.
  • Incorporate a good variety from each group and subgroup. For example, protein can come from many sources including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, seeds, etc.
  • Limit processed foods and those with high levels of added sugar, sodium, and saturated fats.
  • Eat mindfully. This means taking slow, small bites to savor each flavor and stopping as soon as you feel full.
  • Practice good portions.
  • Read the nutrition labels on foods before you buy them. If you need help, consult a doctor or dietitian.