National Nutrition Month is an annual observance in March created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). This is a time when more attention is focused on the importance of eating healthy and how we can make living healthy, through nutrition and exercise, a lifelong habit. This year’s National Nutrition Month’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”.
We eat foods for a variety of reasons—to satisfy our huger, socializing or for growth and maintenance. What is the first thought that comes to mind when you think of eating? If you are like most of us, we think of finding foods that taste good. Other factors such as cost, availability, cultural and religious associations as well as an individual’s health also play a role in the food that is chosen. However, research shows that taste is the most important factor considered when choosing foods.
This year’s theme—“Enjoy the taste of eating right”, suggests that eating healthy does not mean we have to sacrifice the taste of our foods. There is a common misperception that in order to eat healthy, it means we only eat bland, tasteless foods. Just thinking about that seems like torture to me. I have heard many people lamenting how the ‘good for you foods’ always taste so bad. If this is the perception, then it is easy to see why people find changing their eating habits to hard. I believe that eating should be enjoyed; not a task to be endured.
Even though taste is our number one priority in choosing foods, more and more people are making food choices based on the nutrients it can provide to their bodies. In other words, they are choosing foods because of their health. Having a clear understanding of how foods and the nutrients they provide affect our bodies—either positively or negatively—can also be very influential in our choosing not only tasty foods but foods that do a body good. Below are some tips on how you can continue to enjoy the taste of eating right:
1. Find new recipes. Sometimes it is so easy to get caught in a food rut where we are eating the same foods over and over again usually because it’s what we are used to or we lack the creativity to create new dishes. Either way, there is a plethora of healthy recipes already created for you; you just have to find them and let the cooking begin.
2. Experiment, experiment, experiment. Let the kitchen be your play ground. Find new ways of seasoning foods; use a variety of herbs and spices. This can also help you to lower the salt content of some foods. You may also want to start buying new foods. Start slowly at first and then become more adventurous. For example, if you always buy red apples, why not try Granny Smith apples?
3. Try new restaurants. Start choosing restaurants that are known for serving healthier foods. Usually many of the ethnic cuisines would have more options that are good for you but also meet the requirements for taste.
4. Acquire a taste for new foods. There may be foods that you traditionally would not eat, but why not give them a second or third try? Try new foods in a variety of ways—grilled, steamed, baked, mashed, lightly sautéed or even raw depending on the type of food.
With a little effort it’s not so difficult to “Enjoy the taste of eating right”.