March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Eating a variety of foods from all food groups can help supply the nutrients a person needs as they age. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy; includes lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts; and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, salt (sodium) and added sugars.
Eating right doesn't have to be complicated. Start with these recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
- Eat fruits and vegetables. They can be fresh, frozen or canned. Eat more dark green vegetables such as leafy greens or broccoli, and orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
- Vary protein choices with more fish, beans and peas.
- Eat at least three ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day.
- Have three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy (milk, yogurt or cheese) that are fortified with vitamin D to help keep your bones healthy.
- Make the fats you eat healthy ones (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats). Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.
Add Physical Activity
Balancing physical activity and a healthful diet is the best recipe for health and fitness. Set a goal to be physically active at least 30 minutes every day — this even can be broken into three 10-minute sessions throughout the day.
For someone who is currently inactive, it's a good idea to start with a few minutes of activity, such as walking, and gradually increase this time as they become stronger. And always check with a health-care provider before beginning a new physical activity program.