“How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth” Psalm 119:103.
March is National Nutrition Month® and the theme this year is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” It encourages people to take time to enjoy and appreciate healthful food and the great flavors it provides. Each year, National Nutrition Month® focuses on the importance of people making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.
Mealtime is a wonderful time to promote healthier eating among all family members. It strengthens family relationships by sharing a meal together. Establishing healthy family traditions around food and encouraging mindful eating is valuable. Mindful eating is paying attention to not only what we eat, but also why, when, how and where we eat. It is taking smaller bites, chewing food more thoroughly and noticing the flavor, texture and quality of the food. And it is noticing whether or not we are still hungry or just continuing to eat because there is more food on the plate.
Praying a blessing before every meal, acknowledging that God provided our food and all things, and thanking Him is a wonderful way to begin a meal. A healthful eating pattern needs to include nutritious and flavorful foods and also promote nurturing relationships of those eating together. Take the time to listen and engage in conversation with others at the table. We need to slow down and savor the meal.
Make family mealtime a priority. Too often people eat while watching television or are occupied with something else and pay no attention to enjoying the meal or how much they are eating. This can lead to overeating and result in weight gain.
Planning healthful meals can be simple. Here are some tips:
• Start by making half of the plate vegetables and fruits. Choose many different colors to get a wider variety of nutrients.
• Add some lean protein. Skinned chicken and turkey, lean beef and pork, seafood and plant based proteins like beans, peas and lentils are good choices.
• Now add a grain. About half of the grains should be whole grains. Substitute whole grains for refined grains. Choose brown rice instead of white and select whole wheat bread and pasta instead of the refined varieties.
• Include some dairy. Try a glass of fat free or low fat milk with the meal or enjoy a cup of yogurt with fruit for dessert.
• Cut back on sodium. One way to reduce sodium is to read the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels and compare sodium content of products. Choose those with the lowest sodium content.
• Reduce intake of solid fats. Use oils instead of solid fats in preparing food and choose foods naturally low in solid fat.
• Reduce empty calories from added sugars. Drink water instead of sugary beverages. Choose fruit instead of high sugar desserts.
• Avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate if needing to reduce portion sizes.
Be physically active the way you choose. Physical activity and healthful eating are ingredients for healthful living.