March is National Nutrition Month, and the Sanford Underground Research Facility’s (Sanford Lab) Environment, Safety, and Health Dept., is encouraging employees to peek into their lunch boxes, pantries and shopping carts to see what is fueling them each day.
"It is important to think of food as fuel for your body,” said Laura Baatz, occupational nurse at Sanford Lab.
It may seem difficult to keep up with the latest nutrition news, as old fad diets are decried and new superfoods are discovered; however, there are some nutrition basics that can help you sort through the latest research and advice.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Nutrition basics come down to eating a variety of wholesome foods that support your health.” Below are several questions with guidelines from Mayo Clinic to get you thinking about to the essentials of your nutrition.
Looking for a healthy diet plan?
If you choose to follow a diet plan, but aren’t sure how to evaluate the deluge of magazine articles and cooking blogs, use these Do you want to adopt a healthy diet but aren't sure where to start? As you consider the parade of healthy diets in magazines and cookbooks, make sure to look for one that:
* Includes a variety of foods from the major food groups: fruits; vegetables; whole grains; low-fat dairy products and lean protein, including beans and other legumes, nuts and seeds; and healthy fats
* Provides guidelines for how much food to choose from each group
* Includes foods you can find in your local grocery store — rather than specialty or gourmet store items
* Fits your tastes, lifestyle and budget
What are your health risks?
Your personal health and family history could influence the best choices for your diet. For example, do you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure? If so, be sure to follow a diet that's low in salt, saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. For personalized advice, talk with your doctor or a dietitian.
What’s in your cart?
To prepare your healthy menus, you'll need to have healthy ingredients on hand. Your shopping strategies should focus on fresh and unprocessed foods. That means spending more time in the produce section, where you can stock up on fruits and vegetables. Keep an eye out, too, for whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
Another key shopping strategy — don't linger in the snack food and candy aisles. Also be sure to check out the farmers market during the growing season to see what local produce is available.
Good food is one of life's great pleasures. And for most, meals are at the heart of family life and celebrations. Would you like to make satisfying and healthy meals that help protect your family from heart disease and other health problems? So move away from calorie-laden, fatty and salty convenience and highly processed foods.
Experiment with quick- and healthy-cooking techniques, such as baking, grilling and sautéing. Learn important food safety tips, recipe makeovers and more. And then enjoy knowing that your new healthy-cooking skills are helping to reduce your family's risk of health problems.
Need some inspiration?
If you're like most, you're looking for ways to make meals healthier yet still enticing. Get your juices flowing to plan healthy menus by browsing healthy recipes online and in cookbooks.
Want to go beyond the nutrition basics?
Talk to your doctor or a dietitian for personalized dietary advice that takes into account your health status, lifestyle, and food likes and dislikes.
Finally, remember that forming healthy habits about nutrition is a process. “If you have a day where you don't do so well, try not to get derailed or discouraged altogether,” said Baatz. “The next day, start again with healthy choices and move on."