While social, emotional and health factors play a role in the foods people choose to eat, the foods we enjoy are the ones we eat most. That is why, as part of National Nutrition Month 2014, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right."
Each March, the Academy encourages Americans to return to the basics of healthful eating through National Nutrition Month. This year's theme focuses on combining taste and nutrition to create healthy meals that follow the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
When taste is the most influential factor driving what consumers eat, it is important that we find the balance between choosing the foods we like with those that provide the nutrients we need. These two choices are not mutually exclusive. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say that if it tastes good it must not be good for you, or that something that is supposedly a healthier option tastes like sawdust (or its equivalent)!
Balancing our food and beverage intake within an individual's energy needs requires us to not focus on a specific food or meal but rather on the overall choices that we make as part of our lifestyle. Enjoying the healthy foods we eat and the physical activities we engage in is key to developing a healthy lifestyle that we can maintain for years to come.
But how do we make this happen? How do we get to the point where we are truthfully able to say that we like having a piece of fruit for a snack at bedtime? Or that we would prefer eating whole grain toast in the morning instead of toasted white bread? How do we get our kids to say they like the vegetables that are served at supper time?
Similarly, how do we work more physical activity into our day? A colleague of mine remarked that we have done a good job of working the physical activity out of our day. We can push a button, and the garage door opens and closes. We push a button, and the TV channel changes. We push a button and the dishwasher starts. We do enjoy the convenience of all these things, but in the process we have continued to work physical activity out of our lives.
Now we need to find ways to work these things back into our lives. If we can enjoy them and make them a part of our lifestyle, we have the best chance at turning them into lifelong habits. So, if you like fruit, buy some berries and have them for a snack at bedtime. Not sure about using whole grain noodles; buy some and replace half of your regular noodles with whole grain noodles and see what you think. Enjoy walking; invite one of your kids or a friend to go to the gym and catch up with them while you exercise. The first step to making something a habit is to START!
It's time to start. "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right." Happy Nutrition Month!
Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.