Spark Change Nutrition Logo

Dietitian-approved tips to spark better health

“Celebrate a World of Flavors” with AND’s National Nutrition Month®

by | Last updated Apr 27, 2022 | Published on Mar 24, 2022 | Learn | 0 comments

Celebrate a world of flavors

This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to view my affiliate policy.

Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) educates consumers about good nutrition and health via their month-long celebration, National Nutrition Month.® This year’s theme – “Celebrate a World of Flavors” – reminds us that embracing the cultural foods and traditions that already shape our eating habits can contribute to a balanced diet. It also invites us to step outside of our comfort zone to learn about and try foods from other cultures. 

(Pin this post to read later)

How to celebrate National Nutrition Month

What “Celebrate a World of Flavors” means to me

Being a dietitian, I always find something I can relate to in the National Nutrition Month materials. What I like about this year’s theme is that it encourages us to revisit and embrace our own culinary heritages, whatever those may be.

My cultural food heritage is a combination of Italian (on my mom’s side) and Eastern European (on my dad’s side). Growing up, my mom made a variety of foods from both these food cultures. We would have pasta with “Italian gravy” (a.k.a. pasta sauce), always made using my grandmother’s special recipe. Or we would eat Polish foods, like kielbasa with cabbage and pierogi.

Oftentimes when we would visit my dad’s family, my mom would collect recipes from his relatives. Over the years, these became incorporated into our meal times. Some of these foods would be made more frequently (like Golumpki), while other times the recipes were reserved for special occasions (like Babka at Christmas or Easter). 

To this day these are comfort foods for me. When I eat them, they obviously nourish my body by providing nutrition. But just as importantly, they also nourish my spirit. They remind me of family members who have passed on, and they bring back memories of gatherings from long ago. And even though my dietary preferences have changed over the years, I have been able to keep the spirit of these recipes alive by making versions of them for my own family. 

”Celebrate a World of Flavors” National Nutrition Month messages

Now that you’ve heard a little bit about my food heritage, I invite you to consider your own. What foods did you eat growing up that you would like to eat again? What foods do you still eat that are comfort foods to you?

These foods can be a part of a balanced, nutritious diet. In fact, “Celebrate a World of Flavors” reminds us of these tips for eating healthy:

  • Eat a variety of nutritious foods
  • Plan your meals and snacks
  • Create tasty foods at home
  • Enjoy your meals with friends or family, when possible
  • See a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

I’ll be touching on these topics below, but I won’t be covering everything in detail. Check out the Academy’s website for National Nutrition Month to find out more.

“Celebrating flavors from cultures around the world is a tasty way to nourish ourselves and appreciate our diversity. We are all unique with different bodies, goals, backgrounds and tastes! A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help you create healthy habits that celebrate your heritage and introduce you to new foods and flavors.”[1]

How to “Celebrate a World of Flavors” in your life

Eat a variety of nutritious foods 

In order to have a healthy, balanced diet, it is important to eat a variety of nutritious foods. While this is common knowledge, it can be hard to put into practice. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut of eating the same things over and over again. 

You can add variety to your diet and “Celebrate a World of Flavors” by trying new foods from around the world. Try a new restaurant, or visit an ethnic grocery store. Better yet, ask a friend with a different cultural food background to share a meal together. Find new foods and dishes you like, and expand the repertoire of nutritious foods you eat.

Plan your meals and snacks

I am obviously a huge proponent of meal planning, since I talk about it a lot on this blog. I think planning your meals and snacks in advance is an excellent way to ensure a more balanced diet. 

There are many different ways to meal plan, and there is no one “right” or perfect system.

A 30,000 foot overview of meal planning includes:

  • Writing down in advance what you plan to eat
  • Using that meal plan to make a grocery list
  • Using that grocery list to purchase nutritious foods
  • Preparing the foods on your meal plan 

If you would like more details about meal planning, you can check out this post.

Create tasty foods at home

Preparing your own foods at home gives you so much more control over what goes into (and what stays out of) your diet. However, there are a number of perfectly valid reasons people don’t cook more meals at home. Lack of cooking skills, lack of time, and just plain not liking to cook are a few of them. 

If you are not doing a lot of cooking at home, take a moment to ask yourself why. If it is because you’ve never been taught how to cook, learn some basic cooking and meal preparation skills. (You would be surprised how many healthy meals you can make by just assembling pre-purchased ingredients from the store!). 

If you don’t have a lot of time in your schedule for meal prep, there are time-savers out there. Consider using a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to batch cook meals that will feed you all week. Or every time you cook, double the recipe and freeze half of it for later. You can also buy mostly-prepared foods at the grocery store, such as pre-cut veggies, microwavable rice, and pre-seasoned fish or meat. 

If you don’t like to cook, there are ways to make it more enjoyable. Take a cooking class with your partner or a friend. “Reward” yourself for cooking by listening to music, a favorite podcast, or a book on tape while you prepare your meals. 

Also think about what you don’t like about cooking. Is it doing the dishes afterward? Is it because you’re uncomfortable in the kitchen? Or maybe you are frustrated because your food doesn’t turn out the way you expected or hoped? If you can figure out what is preventing you from enjoying your time in the kitchen, you will have an easier time overcoming that obstacle.

Enjoy your meals with friends or family, when possible

Americans seem to have a harder time than other cultures being present with and enjoying our food. Other countries seem to do a much better job of this, as my summer studying abroad in Italy taught me. In our rush to get through the day, we often forget that meals are about more than just getting food inside our bodies.

I think that’s why the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics includes enjoying meals with family and friends as one of its “Celebrate a World of Flavors” sub-recommendations. Communal meals remind us of the importance of slowing down and they give us an opportunity to connect with our loved ones. And, as a mom who cooks for her family almost every day, it is gratifying to watch my sons eating the food that I just spent all that time and effort cooking.

See a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

If you need more help with these tips, or if you just want individualized nutrition advice, then seek out the help of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). RDN’s are trained to provide evidence-based nutrition information to meet the needs of their clients. 

You can ask your doctor for a referral, or check out the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics RD finder tool. Once you’ve entered your location, you can filter the results to locate a dietitian who specializes in the areas you need help with. 

Closing thoughts on “Celebrate a World of Flavors”

One thing that I like about this year’s National Nutrition Month theme is that it supports one of the core messages of this blog: that all foods can fit into a balanced diet, and that good nutrition respects each person’s food preferences and individual needs. So this March, I encourage you to “Celebrate a World of Flavors” by either learning more about your own food culture or exploring a new one. Both will provide benefits that go beyond just providing nutrients for your body.

If you want to cook more at home but a disorganized kitchen keeps you ordering takeout, check out this post on smart kitchen setup.

References

  1. National Nutrition Month. Accessed March 15, 2022. https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month
  2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eat Right: Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Celebrate a World of Flavors. Chicago, IL, 2022.
  3. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Celebrate a World of Flavors: National Nutrition Month(R) 2022. PowerPoint. Accessed March 15, 2022. https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/toolkit
  4. Celebrate a World of Flavors During National Nutrition Month® 2022 Press Release. Accessed March 15, 2022. https://www.eatrightpro.org/media/press-releases/national-nutrition-month/

    Photo by Vo Thuy Tien from Pexels
    Photo by Caju Gomes on Unsplash

Helena Ramadan, MS, RDN

Welcome to Spark Change Nutrition! I'm Helena, and I love sharing nutrition info, meal ideas, and strategies for balanced living.
READ MORE

Categories

Archives

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

About the Author

Helena is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), a health coach, and the mother of two young boys. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Helena loves sharing nutrition tips and meal ideas in the hopes that it will help someone else eat better tonight.

While Helena, the creator of Spark Change Nutrition, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), she is not providing Medical Nutrition Therapy on this website. Anything found here, including downloads and other content, should not be construed as medical advice. The information provided by her is general nutrition/health/fitness information, and is not individualized to your specific medical condition. Helena is not liable for any losses or damages related to any actions you take (or fail to take) as a result of the content presented herein. Please note that the information presented here is not intended to diagnosis or treat any health conditions. Talk to a qualified health professional, such as a doctor or a registered dietitian, about your specific health questions or concerns. 

You May Also Like . . .

Create a simple balanced diet using the food groups

Create a simple balanced diet using the food groups

Maybe you want to eat better but you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Should you go ketogenic? Or vegan? Or gluten-free? What do those even mean? As a dietitian here’s what I recommend: instead of making your diet more complicated and restricted, make it simple. The easiest, most straightforward way I’ve found to improve your diet is to utilize the food groups.

A beginner’s guide to balanced eating

A beginner’s guide to balanced eating

If you’ve ever wanted to eat better but weren’t sure where to begin, then you’ve come to the right place. In this post I’ve compiled answers to several FAQ related to balanced eating. 

Make “meatless” an opportunity, not an obstacle

Make “meatless” an opportunity, not an obstacle

Coronavirus has been impacting meat processing plants across the country, and it is likely we will see some meat shortages at the grocery store. This presents us with either an obstacle or an opportunity. It’s an obstacle if you still want to eat a variety of meat with the same frequency as you always have. It’s an opportunity if you want to experiment with meatless protein choices. I personally choose to see it as an opportunity, and I hope that you do as well.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This