March is National Nutrition Month!
Blog content authored by: Chelsea Johnson, MS, RD, LDN, CSO
National Nutrition Month is a campaign by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help us come together to create healthy habits that last a lifetime. This year’s theme “Fuel for the Future” focuses on sustainability. This means building eating and activity habits that can benefit your health and the environment. It is easy to fall into the “quick fix” trends, but research tells us that building healthy habits sustained over time is the best way to benefit your health. Not to mention, eating habits and physical activity have a direct link to cancer risk. The American Cancer Society (ACS) predicts that 18% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States can be linked to excess body weight, physical inactivity, excess alcohol use, and a diet low in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Luckily, all of these things can be changed or prevented. Let’s tackle some ways you can start building healthy habits with National Nutrition Month. What better month to start?
Eat with the Environment in Mind
Make the most out of food in your refrigerator and pantry to reduce food waste and save money. Here are a few practical habits to reduce food waste:
- Take regular inventory of food in your house. Find things that need to be used before bad. Bring foods that spoil first to eye level.
- Fresh, frozen, and canned produce are all packed with nutrients! Buy fresh produce you know will be used up quickly. Buy frozen or canned foods you may use less often.
- Be creative with leftovers. Incorporate leftover food into “brown bag” lunches or soup dishes.
- If you do not have plans to use fresh fruits soon, blend them into a smoothie or freeze them for later.
- Consider growing foods at home. When I had my own garden, we ate zucchini more than once a week when it was in season. We got creative with using something nutritious in meals and spent no money.
- Look into supporting and purchasing from sources that incorporate sustainable practices into production and delivery.
See a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
As food and nutrition experts, registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) serve in roles that have a positive impact on the health of their patients, clients, and communities. RDNs offer preventive and medical nutrition therapy services in a variety of settings, and they are a trusted source for information about types of food to eat. As you navigate through your cancer journey, you have access to RDNs through the patient and family services department at Thompson Cancer Survival Center (TCSC).
Two of the RDNs at TCSC are oncology specialists, having achieved designation as Board Certified Specialists in Oncology (CSO). Oncology RDNs can offer nutrition advice specific to your treatment and cancer. If you are interested in meeting with an RDN, ask your provider for a referral or call 865-331-1757 to speak with a dietitian.
Stay Nourished and Save Money
Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. Take a look at some practical tips for fueling up on nutritious foods on a budget:
- Protein plays an important role in healing and strong muscles, especially going through cancer treatment. Enhance your diet with a variety of protein sources. Some of my favorite, budget-friendly proteins are eggs, cheese, Greek yogurt, nut butters, chickpeas, and dried beans. Frozen fish filets are packed with healthy fats and last a long time.
- Shop for foods that are in season. These are usually low in cost and rich in nutrients.
- Make a grocery plan. Plan recipes rich in seasonal vegetables, sweet potatoes, seasonal berries rich in antioxidants, beans, brown rice, barley, and lean proteins.
- Limit sodas and alcohol. These can add up in cost and have links to increased cancer risk.
MyPlate has designed a user-friendly tool to help you identify local savings and budget-friendly food choices. Click here to use the Shop Simple tool. For more resources on how to fuel your future starting this month, visit www.eatright.org.