March: National Nutrition Month, Eat Healthy and Cut Back on Waste
By Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, Lawrence Memorial Hospital
Eating a nutritious diet and getting regular physical activity are keys to staying healthy and reducing the chance of developing many diseases. According to 2016 statistics about Kansas from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 31 percent of our population is considered obese, and another 35.6 percent of us are overweight. Statistics from Douglas County are similar. Having excess body weight increases people’s risk for many diseases, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and several cancers.
Aynsley Anderson Sosinski
RN, Wellness Specialist
For the many people who are interested in making some changes in their nutrition or level of physical activity, the best advice is to start small and set goals you can meet. Success is important. Continue setting achievable goals, which will increase your chances of long-term success.
The folks at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, who are responsible for saying March is nutrition month in our country, actually have expanded their reach in the food arena this year. In addition to touting the many benefits of healthy eating, the group is encouraging people to cut back on food waste.
Between 30 and 40 percent of food that is available for Americans to eat is not consumed, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While wasting food at home, restaurants or stores accounts for much of it, food also can be lost because of mold, pets or inadequate climate control.
A 2016 study from Ohio University found that a majority of Americans think food waste is a problem, but find it difficult to reduce their own food waste. For a variety of helpful tips, visit epa.gov and search for “reducing wasted food at home.”
Here are some tips from the academy on how to reduce food waste while ensuring your diet is nutritious:
- Regularly eat a variety of healthy foods from all food groups.
- Consider the foods you have on hand before buying more.
- Purchase only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days, and plan to use any leftovers as soon as possible.
- Be aware of portion sizes. Is the amount right for your age, gender, activity level and your personal goals such as losing weight? Practicing portion control is key to help people lose or maintain their weight. For more about portions, visit myplate.gov.
- Use food-safety practices to decrease the risk of foodborne illness and food waste. For more, visit foodsafety.gov.
- Be physically active most, if not all, days of the week. Find exercises or activities that you enjoy so you will continue them. And remember that almost everyone can exercise in some way, even people who have limited mobility or abilities.
- If you are trying to make food or other lifestyle changes, get support. Consult registered dietitians, or certified nutritionists, wellness coaches or exercise professionals.
— Aynsley Anderson Sosinski is a wellness specialist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of Lawrence Journal-World’s health section. She is board certified by the Mayo Clinic and the National Consortium of Health and Wellness Coaches as a wellness coach. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.