There are a variety of factors that influence our food choices, from childhood experiences to current hunger levels, the food around you, emotions and more. Our perceptions of “healthy” versus “unhealthy” food can be shaped by as many factors, including confusing labels, clever marketing and fad diets. March is Navy Nutrition Month and this year’s focus follows the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics National Nutrition Month campaign theme: Savor the Flavor of Eating Right. This theme encourages you to explore the different ways to follow a nutritious and balanced eating plan packed with tasty foods, while taking the time to enjoy and appreciate the many flavors and social experiences food adds to our lives.
Eating right and maintaining regular physical activity can be stressful in today’s busy world. This year make mindfulness a priority at mealtime by focusing on:
- Enjoying the sight, sounds and good memories associated with eating;
- Making half your plate fruits and vegetables;
- Trying one new food from each food group every week; and
- Having a basis of 3 meals daily with healthy snacks to hold you over when there’s more than 4-5 hours between meals.
A solid foundation within these concepts will help to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall physical and psychological health. You’ll also be well on your way to building new nutrition habits that can help take the stress out of healthy eating.
Remember, what you eat is only half of the focus – how you eat is equally as important. Engage all your senses when you eat – observe the shape and color of your food, savor the fragrant aroma, eat slowly, taste the different flavors and pay attention to every bite. Make every meal an experience to enjoy the full benefit of your food!
Don’t think healthy foods can taste good? Think again! It is a common misconception that whole foods—such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes—are boring, bland or tasteless. In fact, these foods have more inherent natural flavor than their fried, sugary, or heavily-salted processed counterparts. The great thing about preparing a dish with fresh and wholesome ingredients is that you can season to your taste and give the dish your own personal flare. By using herbs such as thyme, bay leaf or rosemary and spices like cumin, allspice or paprika, you can create savory dishes with minimal effort. Experimentation with spices will lead you to discover new and satisfying options for healthy foods. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Library of Recipes to find great-tasting options using easily accessible ingredients.
Savoring the flavor of eating right begins with having access to the right resources to help increase your knowledge of how to choose and prepare good foods that are good for you. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website for tips, meal ideas and more! Also, check out the recently published Dietary Guidelines for Americans for the most up-to-date evidence based information on how to eat for optimal health.
A balanced diet is an essential part of preserving our mission readiness and ability to thrive in our personal lives and careers. Lt. Cmdr. Amit Sood, the OPNAV N17 Nutrition Program Manager, is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. He has nearly 10 years of experience in counseling thousands of service members and their families on nutrition and health-related issues, having delivered close to 600 nutrition-related lectures to more than 20 commands and institutions across the DoD. Check out more of his healthy eating tips on NavyNavStress, like this post on Healthy Eating Barracks Style. For additional Navy Nutrition resources, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/21st_Century_Sailor/navynutrition/Pages/default2.aspx.