March is National Nutrition Month

Article Published: Mar. 15, 2012 | Modified: Mar. 15, 2012
March is National Nutrition Month

With warm weather approaching, the thought of pulling out my summer wardrobe is a motivator to pay attention to how much I’m putting on my plate. During National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to “Get Your Plate in Shape.”

Here are a few practical tips:

Eat at least three meals a day and plan your meals ahead of time. Whether you’re eating at home, packing a lunch or eating out, an overall eating plan for the day will help keep you on track.

Balance your plate with a variety of foods. Half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, about one fourth with lean meat, poultry or fish, and one fourth with grains.

Focus on your food. Pick one place to sit down and eat at home. Eating while doing other things may lead to eating more than you think.

Know when you’ve had enough to eat. Quit before you feel full or stuffed. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your body is getting food. When your brain gets this message, you stop feeling hungry. So, fast eaters, slow down and give your brain a chance to get the word.

Get plenty of fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Fiber can help you feel full longer and lower your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Snack smart. Plan for nutritious snacks to prevent between-meal hunger.

Avoid oversized portions by using smaller plates, bowls and glasses. The standard 10-inch plate may be too large for you. Switch to 8-inch or appetizer-sized plates, and you will automatically portion and eat less.

Get into the kitchen and stay in charge of what you’re eating. Cooking more often at home not only allows you to balance what’s on your plate, but also enables you to choose healthier fats, less sodium and increase the fiber in your diet, while balancing the amount of calories you eat.

Watch out for liquid calories. The calories in fruit juices and drinks with added sugar, sports drinks, sugar-laden coffee beverages, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages can add up fast.

This recipe will help your plate look like it should, with plenty of vegetables.

Basic Vegetable Stir-Fry

Use 1-2 cups of vegetables per person. Common choices include onion, broccoli, celery, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, summer squash, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy.
Use ¼ cup or so of sauce per four servings. Common choices include reduced sodium soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, stir-fry sauce, sweet chili sauce.
Serve with 1 cup of starch choice per person. Choices include rice, couscous, rice noodles and pasta, with whole grain choices being most nutritious.
May serve with your choice of protein: tofu, chicken and seafood are all great in stir-fry.

Wash and cut vegetables into small, even sized pieces.
Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat in a 10-inch fry pan or a stir-fry pan.
Add vegetables to the pan in order of firmness — harder foods first, such as cauliflower, and ending with softer foods like mushrooms.
Move vegetables around in the pan to keep them from sticking.
Cook them for a few minutes until they are brightly colored and still crisp.
Add the sauce to taste and stir until thoroughly coated.
If your protein choice is uncooked, repeat stir fry process with small pieces of protein.
Serve with your choice of starch.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. For more information, email or call (828) 264-3061.

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