By: Leah Golden, MS, RDN
Each year in March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics puts on a campaign to teach people the importance of making well-informed food choices and to encourage regular physical activity. There’s an abundance of nutrition information available; on the web, written about in articles and talked about on the news. This information may be shared by health professionals in the nutrition or medical field, in the fitness industry or someone who simply has an interest in nutrition. It can be challenging to know what advice to trust or follow.
The nutrition and health world has expanded exponentially in the last decade and continues to grow. I see the challenge that people face when figuring out the right wellness path to follow. That’s why this month is also about bringing more awareness to the experts in the nutrition field; Registered Dietitians (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN). These two terms can be used interchangeably. RDNs are the go-to professionals when it comes to evidence-based nutrition knowledge.
This month is a reminder to take a look at your own health and think about any positive changes you can make regarding food selection, activity and your general well-being. I’d like you to think about the following tips as we dive into National Nutrition Month®.
Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle:
- Include a variety of food groups each day to maximize the nutritional diversity and health benefits.
- Be mindful of portion size. Appropriate portions vary from person to person. An RD/RDN can help you figure out what may work best for you.
- Be aware of movement throughout the week and aim to get a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week. Find movement you enjoy; hiking, walking, rock climbing, weight training, running, cycling, yoga, etc.
- Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated for general body wellness, digestion, organ function, optimal hydration for activity, etc.
- Learn to make healthy food choices when you’re away from home at a restaurant, café, friends’ home for dinner or a bar.
- Learn to meal prep healthy food for the week (plan ahead!).
- Shop at farmer’s markets to enjoy and learn about seasonal produce.
- Write out your grocery list before heading to the store (don’t go there hungry)!
- Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each day to increase your antioxidant and bioactive compound intake.
Why should you consult an RDN?
- RDNs are experts in the field of nutrition because…
- They have to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition; with an extensive curriculum spanning from biochemistry, disease processes, medical nutrition therapy, micro/macronutrients, etc.
- Complete a minimum of 1,200 hours of supervised practice with an RDN.
- Comprehensive registration examination before being credentialed.
- Require continuing education credits to maintain registration and most up to date and evidence-based nutrition information.
- RDNs can deliver Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT):
- This means they can help you manage an acute or chronic condition (like diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease). They can help you determine which foods may help manage your condition and work within your lifestyle.
- Are you trying to lose or gain weight?
- An RDN can work with you to figure out how to adjust your eating and physical activity to reach your goals, while still enjoying the foods you love. Fad diets are temporary and are rarely maintained for long.
- Having some gastrointestinal upset (difficulty with digestion)?
- A dietitian can help you navigate your current eating lifestyle and work with your doctor to help manage your condition and not exacerbate symptoms.
- Looking for general healthy eating advice?
- An RDN can help you navigate the grocery store, plan ahead for meals, navigate a holiday party to reduce overeating, learn to read food labels and teach you about trending fad diets. An RDN will work with you to create a plan that fits within your lifestyle, food preferences, nutritional needs and activity level. Each client is different, so your plan will be tailored to your specific needs.
- Looking to maximize the benefits in the gym or improve your sports performance?
- Learn what foods are best for your particular sport or activity. It may be helpful to learn what foods are best pre and post workout. If you’re exercising for a longer period of time, this may include nutrition during your activity a well. These tips can help you perform at your best, feel great and not “hit a wall.”
As we dive into National Nutrition Month®, I encourage you to take a look into your own lifestyle and nutrition habits and see if you can make any positive changes. If you need any direction or suggestions as you begin looking inward, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com and I’d be happy to discuss things further. Have a wonderful month!
Happy National Nutrition Month®!
PS- If you’re interested, every Friday of this month there will be a new nutrition handout available at the Embarcadero FITNESS SF front desk for your learning enjoyment!