Happy National Nutrition month! You might not know it, but March officially holds the title of National Nutrition Month. Who knew such a month even existed? In 1973, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics started National Nutrition week, and due to high levels of interest, National Nutrition month was inaugurated in 1980. Although in my eyes, every month, every day, and every hour is the right time to recognize the importance of good nutrition.
A great place to start with improving your diet is to understand how to read food labels. Foods with more than one ingredient must have an ingredient list on the label. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, meaning those with the largest amounts are listed first. This information is particularly helpful to individuals with food sensitivities, those who wish to avoid pork or shellfish, those who are looking to limit added sugars, or anyone who is vegetarian or vegan.
In a perfect world, we would not eat packaged goods at all, only foods that are grown from the earth or have a mother, but I know I have to be realistic. I truly believe one of the biggest factors contributing to the health crisis in the United States is that consumers are unaware of what they are consuming. In my opinion, the Food and Drug Administration is not held to a high enough standard. And why is the government agency tasked with keeping our food industry safe the same agency responsible for regulating drugs? Furthermore, the food industry spends billions of dollars on packaging, covering products with messages designed to sell products to the target market without telling the whole story.
Remember, any ingredient we consume that our bodies don’t recognize as real food will NOT be used as fuel. Junk food invites serious negative changes to our metabolism, and when eating a diet full of processed foods, muscles will lose the ability to oxidize glucose after a meal. This in turn can lead to insulin resistance down the road. Next time you pick up a packaged product immediately look at the label. Ask yourself, can I pronounce all the ingredients? Does this contain several ingredients that are derived from corn or soy? How many different kinds of vegetable oils does this contain? (most are made from corn/soy). Sugar, corn and soy derivatives are all major contributors to the growing obesity/health epidemic in the United States. Aim to eat low amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, and try to eat foods containing higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Celebrate this month by working to break unhealthy habits and creating healthy ones! We have been given only one body to live in; it is our responsibility to take good care of it. There is no better time than now to start living healthy!
Remember. When your body is hungry, it wants nutrients, not calories. LESS IS BEST!
“The Doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition”
- Thomas Edison.