The US-based Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Academy) celebrates National Nutrition Month (NNM) every March to spotlight how instrumental balanced diets and regular physical activity are to maintaining healthy lifestyles. As the personalized nutrition trend continues to gather pace, finding the “right” diet that works for specific consumers can be difficult. Yasi Ansari, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Academy spokesperson, tells that this month’s “Eat Right Bite By Bite” theme asserts that “every effort counts – no matter how big or small.”
Since its initial launch in 1973, NNM has tailored its message to alternating consumer groups, ranging from meal planning on a budget to proper nutrition at work. “National Nutrition Month is always about promoting healthful eating habits and regular physical activity for good health. ‘Eat Right Bite by Bite’ promotes eating a variety of nutritious foods every day, planning and creating healthful meals each week and the value of consulting an RDN,” the Academy tells.
This year’s NNM theme mirrors “The Right Bite,” which is Innova Market Insights’s number four Top Ten Trend for 2020. To ensure intake of a variety of nutritious foods every day, Ansari urges that people incorporate foods from all food groups, practice portion control and take time to enjoy meals “bite by bite.”
Ansari advises meal planning throughout the week for consumers on a budget. This involves working with grocery lists and planning meals for school and travel. By cooking more from home and eating out less, consumers can not only build positive relationships with food through a family-oriented environment but also reduce food waste, explore new flavors and ingredients and be more in control of what’s in every meal.
For consumers more often on the go, Ansari also notes that ready meals and frozen foods are a “great convenience” but warns of the long ingredient lists and higher sodium contents. When looking at restaurant or takeout menus, she also recommends choosing meals described as “grilled,” “broiled,” or “steamed” rather than “fried,” “breaded,” or “creamy” dishes. Alternating between water and electrolyte-enhanced beverages can also help make up for higher sodium losses.
As chronic diseases, such as hypertension, heart disease and obesity, continue to affect people’s health, the public is looking for reliable information to help. “RDNs are the food experts who promote healthful eating and physical activity habits to their clients to help improve their health,” the Academy maintains.
“Clients should be critical of messages they read and hear in the media and documentaries,” Ansari affirms. “I encourage them to do their research, learn about the pros and cons of trying new diets and reach out to an RDN to ensure they are still meeting their optimal health needs.”
The quest for individualized new eating behaviors aligns with the personalized nutrition trend but contrasts the outdated “one-size-fits-all” approach. Tech-companies are banking on this trend’s mounting popularity, by providing smartphone apps, wearable technologies and artificial intelligence to support consumers’ individual journeys to self-educate on personal health and nutrition. One recent example is Baze’s at-home blood collection kit for nutrient status assessment.
Learning how to read the nutrition facts panel is also on this year’s agenda. This is now heightened considering the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently changed the Nutrition Facts Label list requirements, which now reflects updated serving sizes, calorie amounts and daily nutrient values per serving. “The updated Nutrition Facts Label can help the public make more informed decisions about their food and beverage choices. According to the Academy, understanding the label can make you a wiser shopper,” Ansari concludes.