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Published on March 09, 2015

'Bite into a healthy lifestyle' with informed food Choices during National Nutrition Month and beyond, Says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 

CHICAGO – An eating pattern that meets people’s nutrient needs within calorie limits is vital to maintaining good health and quality of life. That’s why the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging everyone to "Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle" with informed food choices during National Nutrition Month® 2015 and throughout the year.

"A healthy lifestyle is about so much more than just choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables. While that is important, it’s also essential to make informed food choices based on your individual health and nutrient needs," says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Marjorie Nolan Cohn. "Knowing which nutrients your body needs, the foods that contain them, and how much fits into your healthy eating plan are all part of making smart choices."

Each March, the Academy encourages Americans to return to the basics of healthy eating through National Nutrition Month®. This year’s theme encourages consumers to adopt a healthy lifestyle that is focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.

Learn your needs

Age, gender, body type, family history, existing health conditions and daily routines all play a factor in determining which foods we should eat more of and which we should avoid when trying to optimize our health.

"A consultation with a registered dietitian nutritionist is the best tool for learning what your body needs to achieve peak health and prevent disease," Cohn says. "An RDN will review your health history, and then work with your preferences and routine to put together a comprehensive and achievable lifestyle-based eating plan."

Find your foods

Understanding what is in food is essential to making informed food choices while building an eating plan that meets your tastes.

"This may sound simple, but knowing which foods contain the nutrients you need is the next step in biting into a healthy lifestyle," Cohn says. "For instance, most people know that oranges are a good source of vitamin C, but so are tomatoes and potatoes. Dairy foods like milk are a good source of calcium, but so is broccoli. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, but so do whole grains and beans. A registered dietitian nutritionist can guide your food choices while keeping your tastes and preferences in mind."

Know the facts

When food selections go beyond whole foods and into packaged foods, understanding what fits and what doesn’t may not be as clear.

"Front-of-package nutrition claims, ingredient lists and Nutrition Facts Panels can make any food choice dizzying, but with a few tips from an RDN, that task will be less daunting," Cohn says.

"The higher an ingredient is on the list, the more of that ingredient is included compared to the others. This is a good way to determine if a particular food product is made with whole grains or has a lot of added sugar," Cohn says.

"Often when an ingredient like salt or fat is reduced, more of another ingredient is added to help keep taste consistent," Cohn says. "So, no matter what the claim is on the front of the package, it's important to always read the Nutrition Facts Panel to determine how many calories and how much fat, sugar and salt a are in the package."

Making the right food and nutrition choices is a necessary part of biting into a healthy lifestyle. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help. To learn more and to find an RDN in your area visit eatrightPRO.org.

As part of this public education campaign, the Academy's National Nutrition Month website includes a variety of helpful tips, games, promotional tools and nutrition education resources, all designed to spread the message of good nutrition based on the "Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle" theme.