By Staff Sgt. Patrice Clarke
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Whether it’s that early-morning banana before a workout or that heavy steak dinner on a special occasion, food plays an integral role in everyone’s life. With March being National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to get their plate in shape.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website, National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign that focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
“This month’s theme encourages everyone to just eat a balanced meal,” said Staff Sgt. Vanessa Arthur, Schriever Health and Wellness Center dietician. “We went from the food pyramid, to focusing on individual plates.”
Arthur suggests that the assortment of food on the plate should be colorful.
“You shouldn’t have a plate full of all brown food, or all green food,” said Arthur. “It should vary … it should be a rainbow.”
The type of foods a person consumes should fluctuate, specifically with fruits and vegetables.
“Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal,” she said. “Oranges give you Vitamin C but bananas do not. You need to vary the types of fruits and vegetables you consume to get all the nutrients your body needs.”
Like fruits and vegetables, fast food, is also not created equal.
“There are many ways Schriever members can make healthy choices at fast-food restaurants,” said Arthur.
When making selections at the drive-thru window, Arthur suggests avoiding extras and going for the smaller size.
“Go with water instead of tea or soda because beverages usually have a whole lot of calories,” she said. “Ask for a low fat or light alternative and ask for a whole wheat bun if they offer it. The key is asking. Many times restaurants won’t have the healthy choices shown on their menu but they do offer them.”
The salad option at some fast food restaurants can be sneaky and disguised as a healthy option when they are really a high-calorie meal.
“Some salads at fast food restaurants have the same amount of calories as some burgers,” said Arthur. “Chicken- caesar salads are high in calories and fat. It’s usually the dressing that’s going to pack the most calories.”
Order the dressing on the side and avoid croutons and bacon because they often have the highest calorie saturation. Arthur also suggests ordering grilled instead of fried and getting a salad with romaine or red-leaf lettuce instead of iceberg lettuce because iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value.
Team Schriever members have the opportunity to learn more about National Nutrition Month with classes and information provided by the Schriever Health and Wellness Center.
There is a Recipe Modification class March 15, a Fast Food Healthy class Tuesday, a Reading Food Labels class March 21 and a Supermarket Savvy class March 30. All classes are at the HAWC from 9 to 10 a.m.
“This month is a good month to start practicing good nutrition if you haven’t done it before,” said Arthur. “You shouldn’t just practice good nutrition this month; it should be a part of your lifestyle.”
For more information concerning National Nutrition Month contact the HAWC at 567-4292.