National Nutrition Month® was started in 1973 as National Nutrition Week. In 1980 it became a month-long observance in response to the growing interest in nutrition. It was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a nutrition education and information campaign. Each year a new theme is selected, and this year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.” This theme emphasizes there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health as we all have different bodies, goals, backgrounds, and tastes. Healthy eating plans can be individualized to meet individuals’ cultural and personal food preferences. “The Academy encourages everyone to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits they can follow all year long.”
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day is also celebrated during National Nutrition Month®, on the second Wednesday in March. This year’s observance was Wednesday, March 10. This is an annual celebration in which we recognize RDNs as the experts in nutrition. This day is set for recognizing both RDNs and nutrition and dietetic technicians, registered for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.
So, what exactly does “Personalize Your Plate” mean. The first step in personalizing your plate is to select nutrient-rich foods and beverages from all the basic food groups. Based on your cultural food traditions, everyone’s plate may look a little different. The goal of a healthy lifestyle is not meant to look the same for all. Fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. The combination of foods and amounts will depend on you. Below are healthy options to choose from when filing your plate.
- Fruits: Try and assortment of brightly colored fruits and 100-percent fruit juice
- Vegetables: Choose vibrantly colored vegetables including potatoes
- Grains: Use whole-grains in place of refined grains, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods
- Protein: choose lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, soy foods such as tofu and tempeh
- Dairy: Include low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt or fortified plant-based alternatives
There are many ways to honor National Nutrition Month® in a long-term care facility. Listed below are several ideas:
- Visit eatright.org for a free National Nutrition Month toolkit with planning materials
- Create a display with handouts and activities provided in the tool kit.
- healthy eating tip sheets
- Decorate the cafeteria with National Nutrition Month posters, banners, or table tents.
- Plan multi-cultural themed meals by trying new healthy recipes. Highlight international cuisines such as Asian, Mediterranean, Mexican, or regional foods of the United States.
- Practice and learn new culinary skills in the kitchen to create new meals.
- Organize a “healthy recipe” contest among employees.
- Create a “nutrition question of the day or week.”
- Try a new fruit or vegetable each week during National Nutrition Month®.
Registered dietitians around the world work diligently to improve the health and wellbeing of all individuals. Celebrating National Nutrition Month® is a way to bring light to the importance of good nutrition throughout all life stages. Ask your Registered dietitian nutritionist for further suggestions on how to celebrate National Nutrition Month® within your facility.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2021, 40 Ideas to Get Involved in National Nutrition Month®, https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/ideas-to-get-involved-in-nnm
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2021, About National Nutrition Month®, https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/about-national-nutrition-month