Monday, March 4, 2013

National Nutrition Month Week 1: "Eat Right"

 I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month
Get excited, because March is National Nutrition Month! Since 1980, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has sponsored the month-long endeavor to "focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits."

The specific theme of 2013's National Nutrition Month is "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day," which I think is a relevant and timely motto in light of the fact that, as a society, we seem to finally be getting "fed up" (I'm not sorry) with fad diets that claim to have a universal answer for everyone regardless of their genetic makeup, culture, or level of exercise. The guideline "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day," is vague enough to encourage us to think for ourselves about what the best choices are depending on our specific situations. It's also a little reminiscent of Michael Pollan's suggestion to "Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants," don't you think?

So what does it mean to "eat right?" The word "right" inherently gives off a sense of judgy-ness with which I'm not sure I'm completely comfortable. But we'll let it slide because the overall sentiment seems to be putting the focus on finding a style of eating that works for you.

For me, eating "right" means eating real food: food made from ingredients you can pronounce, or better yet, whole fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins that don't have ingredients lists at all.

Avoiding corn is a great tool to use when assessing whether an item at the grocery store is a good investment, because many of the additives that go into heavily processed not-really-foods are made from corn. It isn't a complete fix, though, because the marketing teams are onto us. If you look carefully in the dreaded center aisles on your next trip to Star Market or Stop & Shop, you'll notice plenty of processed snacks that boast "no high fructose corn syrup." Don't be fooled. If it's the kind of food substance that has to say things like that, odds are they've just swapped out the HFCS for a different highly processed sweetener hoping you'll take the bait and not read the fine print too closely.

Tune in for more on National Nutrition Month next week, but in the meantime, what does "Eat Right" mean to you?

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