National Nutrition Month 2023
Fuel the Future
March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign of the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). The theme for 2023 is Fuel for the Future. The idea to eat healthily and sustainably. Some tips from their handouts include:
Eat less meat
Replace animal protein with plant protein alternatives
Prepare food at home
Make half your plate fruit and vegetables
Eat foods in various forms including fresh, frozen, canned and dried.
Eat a variety of foods from each MyPlate food group
Reduce added sugar
Get to know food labels
Watch your portion sizes
Reduce food waste
Use up leftovers
Practice good food safety
Wash your hands
Clean, separated, cook and chill
Drink more water
Enact family mealtime
Slow down mealtime
I deliberately chose points from their advice that I could stand behind. I recognize that even some of these assume access to luxuries and privileges I know many Americans lack. Luckily I am self employed with some personal wealth. Yet, I struggle with some of their advice.
Luckily I love cooking, so I’m happy to make my own food with limited sugar and salt. To make my food full of flavor, I use herbs and spices and I add lemon juice or hot sauce for a zing. As I’m vegetarian, I already eat beans, tofu, tempeh and other plant proteins.
Unfortunately, as I live in an apartment, it is hard for me to compost my leftovers. I don’t have space for a countertop or under sink composter.
I walk most days. I’m lucky to have an open safe space nearby. Even if many people think my cemetery walks are morbid. I find them nurturing and often pretty.
Some of the advice around National Nutrition Month is totally unrealistic and also not well explained. For example, there are a couple of issues with the advice to shop locally. Most of us shop locally if we can. I get most of my groceries within a few miles of my home because I have a car. People living in areas affected by food apartheid, so-called food deserts, do not have that luxury. Additionally, what we really need to do is support local neighborhood stores, farms, and farmer markets. It does not mean, like I do because in the winter this is my only choice, shop at your nearby Aldi or Target.
This gets into the concept of eating seasonally. In the summer, when I get my Farm Box through a Community Supported Agricultural (CSA), each week I eat what the farmer harvests. In winter, I don’t know what would be seasonal in south NJ. I guess anything that I could store, which usually means root vegetables. Even those struggle to last six months. Or I could eat canned or frozen foods.
Buying commercially canned and frozen foods doesn’t feel that different from buying fresh fruit and vegetables. Perhaps I could do my own preserving - I do have frozen peaches and corn from last summer. I don’t make preserving a priority because I can buy fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the year. Yeah, yeah, this week my blueberries are from Peru and my tomatoes are from Mexico, but they are fresh and not commercially processed. If I really wanted to do this properly, I need organize my summers differently.
There is a constant reminder when dealing with dietary advice based around the US Dietary Guidelines and MyPlate that dietary advice ignores taste and flavor. For me the most irritating is to eat low-fat dairy. Nope, I wish they would change that to either eat low-fat dairy or to eat less dairy that is unaltered. There are a few low-fat cheeses, yogurt cheese, for example, that are worth eating. However, I find most of them tasteless and unfilling.
What nutritional advice do you constantly push against?
I hope you have a fun March and enjoy National Nutrition Month by not obsessing over what you are eating. Have some superb meals, perhaps try a new to you food.
As well as National Nutrition Month, according to Foodimentary, March is also National Fresh Celery Month, National Noodle Month, National Flour Month, National Frozen Food Month, National Peanut Month, National Sauce Month, and National Caffeine Awareness Month! So you have more to celebrate than worrying about the nutritional value of your food.
I’m thinking of hitting three or four of March’s food months by making ants on a log with fresh celery, peanut butter, and frozen blueberries.
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Cathy Davies runs a food safety consultancy, Food Safety Mid Atlantic, supporting specialty food businesses with their food safety plans and programs. If you are interested in learning more about my consulting services, please schedule a free call.
Check out last month’s blog post on how to write Good Manufacturing Practices using FDA’s GMP regulations.
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