March 2023 marks the 50th annual celebration of National Nutrition Month®!
National Nutrition Month ® was created by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics as a way to learn more about nutrition and incorporate healthful habits into our lifestyles. Each March the Academy chooses a theme for National Nutrition Month ® and provides information and helpful tips related to the theme.
Fuel for the Future
This March, the focus is “Fuel for the Future.” According to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, this theme “highlights the importance of fueling our bodies at every age and eating with the environment in mind.”
As a Registered Dietitian, I am enjoying this pick. It reminds us to focus on getting enough food to nourish ourselves, something I find most people struggle with. A lot of messaging around nutrition is confusing, rigid, or proclaims, “The less, the better!” This can leave us hungry, irritable, hyper focused on food, and can erode our relationship with food and trust in our bodies. Adequate nutrition is a great step towards a healthful lifestyle.
The sustainability aspect of this theme is a great sentiment as well, encouraging us to leave our environment better than we found it. Prioritizing sustainability can be great for some, but can create a hyperfocus on food choices and can also be expensive and inaccessible for many of us. Making intentional, sustainable food choices often requires financial resources, time, and energy. Many of us do not have the capacity to participate in these options as resources are limited, we do not have many options for food shopping, and we need to choose low cost foods to maximize the volume of food we can buy—especially with the current increase in costs of living. We can also get too wrapped up in these practices as well. If you are only allowing yourself to eat sustainable options you may risk inadequate nutrition and obsessive food thoughts and behaviors.
The Academy also provides some tips to try out during the month to help us apply the theme to our everyday lives:
Each of these tips can make a big difference in your budget, time, food choices, and relationship with food. I personally use every one of these suggestions in my nutrition choices and planning, as well as in nutrition counseling with my clients.
If you’d like to start implementing any of these tips:
- Start slow! Choose 1-2 at a time to practice.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to “stick to it”. It’s new and will take time to adjust.
- If it doesn’t make things easier for you, it might not work for you. That’s okay!
- Be patient. Improving health and nutrition takes time and often does not look or feel the way we see in media.
- Focus on how these changes are making you feel, and celebrate these wins!
- Physically - do you have more energy?
- Mentally - are you fueling enough and having less irritability? Are you less stressed about food choices?
- Emotionally - are you having more fun in the kitchen? Are you enjoying food and meals more?
National Nutrition Month® also aims to bring awareness to the role of Registered Dietitians.
Registered Dietitians (RD), also called Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN), are food and nutrition experts. Registered Dietitians have completed a specific, accredited curriculum for an undergraduate degree, completed a supervised practice/internship, and passed a national registration examination. We also must maintain continuing education requirements throughout our career.
This extensive training allows us to work in many different fields to:
- Make personalized, evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle recommendations based on your past medical history, budget, schedule, preferences, allergies, etc.
- Plan, implement, and help people access community food and nutrition programs.
- Develop recipes and food products.
- Provide nutrition care and interventions in clinical settings like hospitals and long-term care facilities.
- Develop and implement nutritionally adequate menus for schools, hospitals, and other facilities.
- Perform health, food, and nutrition research.
- Manage food service operations.
- Provide reliable health and nutrition information in public health campaigns.
What’s the difference between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist?
Registered Dietitians are credentialed practitioners that have met certain qualifications, and participate in required continuing education to maintain their credentials. Per the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, “A credential is a professional qualification — like MD for doctors or physicians — that lets the public know that the practitioner is a trained expert. In nutrition and dietetics, the credentials for trained experts is RDN and NDTR.”
The “Nutritionist” title is not credentialed, meaning that there are no qualifications to meet to acquire this title, so in essence, anyone can call themselves a Nutritionist.
Note: All Registered Dietitians are Nutritionists, but not all Nutritionists are Registered Dietitians. Be sure to get health and nutrition information from a credentialed source. Much of the current nutrition information in the media is anecdotal and not based on scientific evidence.
I hope these nutrition tips were helpful! Enjoy National Nutrition Month®!