APU Health & Fitness Original

National Nutrition Month: Are You Practicing Good Nutrition?

March is National Nutrition Month, a reason to examine your nutritional habits and take steps to eat healthier. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the obesity rates of the United States are continuing to increase.

Being overweight or obese can have a detrimental impact on your health. For example, there are a number of obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke or even cancer.

Nutritional Needs Change over Time

Good nutrition is important at every stage of our lives. Our nutritional needs change throughout our lives whether we are infants, children, teenagers, adults or senior citizens. Nutritional needs are also different for men versus women.

It’s important to remain aware of your nutritional needs throughout your life, especially since nutritional needs vary by both age and gender. For example, men have more muscle and bone compared to women and may need more protein in their diet.

Similarly, a woman may need more iron or calcium during certain stages of her life. If a woman is pregnant, her nutritional needs will change as the baby grows and develops.

What Is Good Nutrition?

Being aware of your nutritional needs can help you achieve a healthy diet at every stage of your life.

But what is good nutrition and what does it mean to you? Is it eating three meals a day?  Drinking lots of water? Reducing your sodium intake? 

According to experts, good nutrition is vital to your mental and physical health. The CDC notes that a meal plan should include a variety of foods to promote your overall health and help you to manage your weight.

The CDC recommends “eating the rainbow” by consuming foods of different colors. I’ve often heard nutritionists say that having a colorful plate is one way to ensure your meals are balanced and healthy.

By adding fruits and vegetable to your plate at each meal, there is an endless variety of colors and tastes you can try while getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs on a daily basis.

Related: A Colorful Plate Is Good for Your Health

Government Guidelines for Good Nutrition

The CDC has dietary guidelines that you can use at every stage of your life to ensure your body gets the optimal nutrition it needs. Similarly, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also developed many tools to assist in personalizing a meal plan based on your age, weight, height, gender, and physical activity level. For instance, the USDA offers the MyPlate Plan.

Related: Healthy Diets: Comparing Paleo, Keto and Mediterranean

Good Nutrition Apps and Websites

In addition, there are many nutrition apps and websites that you can use to track your nutrition. For instance, apps such as MyPlate Calorie Counter and MyFitnessPal® can be downloaded to your phone for easy access and monitoring throughout the day.

One of the more popular websites for tracking your daily food intake is CalorieKing®. On this website, you can look up nutritional information for the foods and beverages of many fast-food restaurants to help you make informed nutritional choices. CalorieKing also makes it possible to look up the nutrition information of ordinary foods such as vegetables and fruits.

If you want to make nutritional changes in your diet choices, talking with your physician is the first step to ensure those changes are safe for your overall health. It’s also important to make sure that you can stick with a new diet in the long term.

Fad diets are just trendy, and most of the time they are not a habit you can maintain long-term. However, small changes to your diet on a daily basis are more likely to become ingrained over time.

Spring is right around the corner and farmer’s markets can be a good start to “eating the rainbow.” During National Nutrition Month, it’s time to take the small steps toward improving your nutrition and general health.

MyFitnessPal is a registered trademark of MyFitnessPal, Inc.

CalorieKing is a registered trademark of Family Health Network Pty., Ltd.

Dr. Hoban earned her Ph.D. in cellular molecular biology and physiology from Georgia State University in 2008. She earned her MPH degree in 1997 from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Dr. Hoban has worked in maternal and child health and vaccine-preventable diseases. She was the project director for the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) in Georgia for over six years and was also the project director for the Georgia Immunization Study for over seven years. Dr. Hoban has numerous published articles based on her work in both vaccine-preventable diseases and maternal and child health. She is also currently a peer reviewer for the Maternal and Child Health Journal.

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