March Is National Nutrition Month
By: Sama Kaskas, RD, LD
March is National Nutrition Month! This time of the year we get to celebrate food as the ultimate source of pleasure and good taste. Particularly, the pleasure we find in discovering the rainbow of foods through healthy eating.
National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. March 12, 2014 is our seventh annual Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, a day to recognize dietitians’ vital roles helping people enjoy healthy lifestyles. “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” is the theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month, with a goal to increase awareness about healthy meal planning, while enjoying the combination of taste and nutrition.
A healthy eating plan, however, might lead people to move towards dieting. Just like our owner and Registered Dietitian, Adrien Paczosa, says “Diet sounds more like the word ‘die,’ which is far beyond what our goals are for finding a pleasurable and healthy balance!”
As registered dietitians (RDs), we look for certain areas of concern, that we warn people to watch for when setting their goals towards healthy eating:
- Skipping meals, especially breakfast! Some may think that decreasing their total energy intake might sound like a good idea for weight management. “The lower your caloric intake, the less likely you are to put on weight.” This is not true! Think of breakfast as your power booster for the day. If you skip it, not only will you feel grumpy, but studies show that people who skip breakfast tend to impulsively snack more, not choosing the healthiest snacks. Studies have also shown skipping breakfast is associated with higher BMI and an increased obesity risk, despite lower daily energy intake. Those breakfast eaters tend to eat less at later meals. So BREAK your fast; it’s the “Go Go” for the day!
- Restriction. People tend to eliminate certain food groups, like carbohydrates or starches, from their diet with the misconception that it’ll help them lose weight faster. They tend to focus more on proteins. Carbohydrates carry the same caloric density as protein does (4 kcal/kg)! Fats are the most calorically dense food groups (9 kcal/kg). So, if the goal is weight loss, your best bet is to reduce your total fat intake, but don’t avoid it altogether. We really need a healthy balance of all the food groups to function optimally!
- Rapid Weight Loss. Studies have shown cutting out carbohydrates contribute to faulty fast weight loss due to water loss. Biochemically, our water molecules hang on to carbohydrates that in turn will fall off when carbs are not present. This water loss is what we see on the scale! Make sure to focus on variety, rather than restriction by making your plate a rainbow of foods!
- Increasing proteins because “I am an athlete.” There is a misconception that our muscle mass increases if we increase our protein intake. Those who exercise vigorously tend to gulp protein shakes, thinking their body need it to increase their muscle mass and strength. As a matter of fact, our muscles store carbohydrates as the ultimate source of energy, and reducing their intake will cause muscle tears and hurt endurance. In fact, our body cannot assimilate the extra protein, and it tends to convert to fat stores. So, don’t underestimate those carbohydrates, and use proteins in moderation!
- Water. Water makes up about 60% of your body weight! For your body to function properly, daily water losses need to be replenished through drinking beverages that contain water. Dehydration will prevent those kidneys from getting rid of toxins and results in muscle fatigue. Think of it as a cushion that supports our organs to normally function! Water is not a magical “silver bullet,” but substituting it over sugary beverages can help trim calorie intake. So listen to your body cues, because you might not be hungry again. You may be thirsty and need to quench!
- Adopting too many goals at once. It is so exciting to start making changes. But making too many changes at once will only make us fall behind, or even further behind than where we started! The key is to set one goal at a time, master that for a certain period of time, like a month or so for it to become a daily habit, then move on to the next one. It doesn’t have to be a big change; it can simply be as small as having adequate water intake per day. I know this will be a longer process to reach that end result, but this will help you maintain those changes in the long run to become permanent habits.
In honor of our annual Registered Dietitian day, we encourage you to seek help when trying to identify your goals, and ways to implement them. Keep in mind, making small steps a daily habit towards a healthy lifestyle change is a surer way to success! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at I Live Well Nutrition Therapy.
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Editor’s Note: This post continues a series of articles on health and wellness through nutrition. All of these articles will be authored by the Registered and Licensed Dietitians associated with iLiveWell Nutrition Therapy out of Cedar Park, Texas. iLiveWell Nutrition Therapy was founded and is headed by Adrien Paczosa, RD, LD, CEDRD. Adrien and her dedicated team will be contributing various articles designed to contribute to our knowledge and understanding of how our diet can effect our lives. If you would like to subscribe to iLiveWell Nutrition Therapy’s newsletter, please click here. If you want to make contact with Adrien or any of her team at iLiveWell Nutrition Therapy, please visit their web site or just click here.
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