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Treat yourself to better health in March

NationalNutritionMonthWhen: March

What: Foodies and cooks alike look forward to the spring and summer months bringing a variety of fresh new foods into season. Many seasonal favorites are also packed with nutrients and perfect for the health-conscious to enjoy. This March, prepare for the bounty by recognizing the importance of nutritious and healthy foods during National Nutrition Month.

Background: National Nutrition Month was first celebrated in 1980 as an expansion of National Nutrition Week, which began in 1973. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) started the week to educate Americans on ways to eat better and the role dietitians play in public health. After the event proved popular with local schools, community centers, and healthcare facilities, the U.S. House of Delegates called to extend the week to a monthlong event. This year’s theme is “Eat Right with Color,” urging Americans to make nutrition simple by incorporating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables into each meal.

Story Pitch: Groups concerned with health and food have a great opportunity to pitch around National Nutrition Month. Keeping in line with this year’s theme, grocers can promote their colorful produce with healthy cooking tips and prepared shopping lists, while local farmers’ markets can educate consumers on foods coming into season and their options for healthy, local eating. Schools can also use this event to educate students and parents alike on what nutritional needs growing children have, and ways to entice picky eaters to try healthy foods. Health organizations should address portion control and how to create balanced meals. Additionally, groups focused on a specific health condition can discuss the unique nutritional needs of those affected.

Story Hook: Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Since the release of the 2010 guidelines on Jan. 31, 2011, the new research and recommendations have been making headlines. How can better nutrition address the health problems discussed in the guidelines? When shopping for food, how can consumers make healthy purchases? What should someone look for on the labels? Consider the following when making your pitch:

  • How do different vitamins and minerals affect the body? What happens when there is a deficiency?
  • What common diseases and health problems are related to diet?
  • Do nutritional needs change with age?
  • What about people who are already doing their best to keep healthy and in shape? How can they address their nutritional needs and concerns? Do certain sports or workout routines require special nutrition?

Tips: Provide a local dietitian as a contact who can talk about nutrition problems facing members of the community. Additionally, an area farmer or produce grower can be a good contact to address questions about local food issues.

Resources:

American Dietetic Association
–National Nutrition Month

800-877-1600
nnm(at)eatright.org
media(at)eatright.org
www.eatright.org/nnm

American Society for Nutrition
301-634-7050
www.nutrition.org

Nutrition.gov
nginbox(at)ars.usda.gov
www.nutrition.gov

MyPyramid.gov
john.webster(at)cnpp.usda.gov
www.mypyramid.gov

–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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