Content by Amanda Mondini, RD, LD, CSO, Thompson Cancer Survival Center Oncology Dietitian
March is National Nutrition Month, and as we approach its end, let’s focus on two key ideas to propel us forward into the rest of the year.
Eat a Variety of Foods from All Food Groups
There are five different food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. You may recall these food groups from the outdated food pyramid. In 2011, the food pyramid got a major modern refresh, and voila- MyPlate was born. MyPlate is considered the official symbol of the five food groups and functions as a reminder to include the right mix of food in your meals. Fruits and vegetables make up half of the plate, while the other half features both a grain and a portion of protein food. A serving of dairy completes the meal but don’t fret- if you are lactose-intolerant, lactose-free milk and soymilk are good alternatives. It is important to include all of the food groups in your eating pattern as they each contain certain nutrients that have vital roles in the body. Please avoid fad diets that encourage you to cut out entire food groups to lose weight- this is dangerous and can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Instead, practice gratitude for your body by giving it the fuel that it needs. Lean in to enjoying all of the different food groups by trying diverse cuisines or leafing through old recipe books. It’s easy to get stuck in tired patterns of eating but remember that you can eat foods in various forms such as fresh, frozen, canned, and dried. For example, try using canned chicken instead of fresh in your favorite pasta recipe. Canned is cheaper, lasts longer, and tastes just as good- especially with a yummy sauce added!
Make Tasty Foods at Home
You can certainly chow down on the different food groups by going to a restaurant, but many times it can be cheaper and easier to accomplish this at home! If you feel that your cooking skills are not up to par, there are hundreds of YouTube videos that teach basic to advanced culinary skills. Additionally, Thompson Cancer Survival Center’s registered dietitians teach monthly nutrition education and cooking classes at the Cancer Support Community of East Tennessee. Click here to view their class calendar. Registration is required, but the classes are free! On the other hand, maybe you are already a seasoned chef but have lost your passion for cooking. In this digital age, there are plentiful food bloggers who craft recipes using foods in ways I’m certain you have never seen before! Half Baked Harvest is one of my personal favorites and the link to her website is here. The blog author, Tieghan Gerard, posts new, free recipes on almost a daily basis.
Be inspired by National Nutrition Month and start the year on a good note!