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National Nutrition Month: What, Why & How You Can Participate

Therapist and patient during a therapy session.

Written by: Becky Mehr, MS, RDN, CEDS-S, LDN,
Director of Outpatient Nutrition

National Nutrition Month is time where we explore the critical role nutrition plays in our lives and how those who participate help increase communal wellness—including you.

“Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine thy food” – Hippocrates (400 BC)

National Nutrition Month® is a month-long campaign to spotlight nutrition and the role of the Registered Dietitian in supporting wellness for the community. At Renfrew, Registered Dietitians are a valuable part of your treatment team and can be essential for a successful recovery. Registered Dietitians help to ensure nutritional needs are being met while giving you the tools to challenge misinformation.

The History

Launched by a presidential proclamation, National Nutrition Month originated in 1973 as a week-long campaign titled: “National Nutrition Week”. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) embraced this opportunity to deliver nutritional education to the public and promote their members as the experts. Seven years later, in 1980, the American Dietetic Association expanded “National Nutrition Week” into what we now know as National Nutrition Month. The Academy of Nutrition Dietetics (renamed from ADA in 2012) extended the length of the campaign in response to the growing interest of the public. The campaign, celebrated each year in March, promotes the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

The theme for National Nutrition Month ® 2023 is “Fuel for the Future”. This theme highlights the importance of fueling our bodies at every age and eating with the environment in mind.

4 Ways You can Fuel for the Future

  1. Meal Planning

Meal planning is the act of planning and writing down any of your meals for the day, week, or month ahead. Meal planning can be a great tool in eating disorder recovery. It can help with ensuring you are fueling for the future because you have a plan in place to meet your nutritional needs –whether you’re at home, on-the-go, or out to eat. Meal planning can also be as structured or flexible as you need during your recovery journey.

Meal planning can also assist with saving money; when you have a plan, you are able to purchase everything you need for your meals and snacks. As an added bonus, meal planning can help prevent food waste which ultimately helps the environment as well as your budget. Meal planning doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat out; that experience can be planned as well as based off your budget. Meal planning involves prepping ahead so you have more time to spend doing the things that bring joy throughout the day.

  1. Adding Variety

Variety is often known as the “spice of life”. By having a varied diet, you increase the likelihood of meeting your nutritional needs, incorporating all of the food groups, and including diverse types of food that vary in color, seasonings and environment. Variety helps to keep things fresh and prevents boredom in eating.

  1. Learning (or Improving) Prepping & Cooking Skills

The month is also an opportunity to learn or sharpen your skills so that you have the option to plan, create and enjoy meals and snacks in your home environment. Take an “all foods fit” approach, reject the rigid mentality rooted in diet culture, and include the ingredients and the meaningful traditions that help you feel connected to yourself, others and your culture.

  1. Seeking Support from a Registered Dietitian

If you’re fortunate enough to access services, a Registered Dietitian can offer support and help you fuel for you future self. They can help customize a plan for you and provide the educational tools needed for a nutritionally sound recovery in each stage of your life.

During this month, many folks shift their focus to their health and search for resources geared towards the theme “Fuel for the Future.”  Here are few resources that can get you started or enhance your recovery journey.

Books & Nutrition Education Literature

  • Born to Eat: A Baby-Led Weaning Guide That Supports Intuitive Eating for the Whole Family by Leslie Schilling and Wendy Jo Peterson
    • Great resource for starting with the highchair up in establishing a relationship with food to fuel for the future.
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat and Wendy MacNaughton
    • Great book on how cooking methods and seasonings can enhance the flavor of food and incorporate variety.
  • Unmasking Super Foods by Jennifer Sygo
    • Provides information on “superfoods” to dispel myths and shows how to get the same nutrition from everyday foods.
  • Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S and Elysa Resch, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S, FAND
    • Provides 10 principles intended to help people reject the diet mentality, honor and respect your body’s signals, and ultimately make peace with food.

References:
S Denny. (2006). National Nutrition Month: A Brief History. JADA. 106(3): 365-366.
National Nutrition Month (eatright.org)

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