March is National Nutrition Month! What started out as a week-long celebration of eating healthy and nutritious meals in 1973 by a small group of dieticians has grown into a movement that focuses on making informed-choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits which now influences schools, communities, and institutions nationwide. The purpose of National Nutrition Month is to help the public become aware of the importance of good nutrition and a healthful eating. This year’s theme, “Choose right, Live well” emphasizes the importance of making informed-choices (get educated folks!) and putting this knowledge into action to develop healthy eating and physical activity habits.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following strategies to eat and live well:
- Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
- Consider the foods you have on-hand before buying more at the store.
- Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week.
- Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you.
- Continue to use good food safety practices.
- Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
- Realize the benefits of healthy eating by consulting with a nutritionist.
March is a good month for athletes to assess their pre-, post-, and during workout nutrition. As the race season approaches, your training and racing will ramp up. Begin to log your workouts and meals, and see if you can find connections between how you feel, your ability to meet performance goals, and the amount of time needed to recover. When I review client food logs, I look at the log three times – once for macronutrients, second for kinds/quality of food eaten, and third for food groups/items that are missing. Perform a self-assessment using these criteria. Use your log as a self-informing tool and then begin to experiment with adding-in new items, and adjusting calories, timing, and food combinations. Sports nutrition begins with healthy eating so go back to the basics. Look at the strategies listed above and “Choose right, so you can Live (and train) well.”
What’s in Season: Citrus
Tropical citrus fruits are in the peak of season during our coldest winter months here in the Northeast. Packed with high doses of vitamin C and antioxidants, citrus season coincides well with cold and flu season. Even though recent research is conflicted on whether vitamin C is effective towards preventing colds and flu, amounts higher than the RDA (men 90 mg/day and women 75 mg/day) are nothing to worry about since it is a water-soluble vitamin (i.e., not stored in the body). Eating citrus is the perfect way to add a burst of sunshine to your meals!
Try these citrus fruits this month: blood or Cara Cara oranges, pomelos, satsuma, grapefruit (pink and white), kiwi, mandarins, clementines, tangerines, lemons, and limes. Eat them alone or find new recipes to try out. Throw an orange or clementine in your workout bag for a refreshing post-workout snack. Add the juice of half a lemon to a cup of warm green tea in the afternoon for a nice pick-me-up. ** Note: If taking medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist before eating grapefruit.
Health benefits of citrus:
- Good source of fiber
- Good for the heart – may lower LDLs or “bad cholesterol”
- Low on the glycemic index (low in natural sugars)
- May reduce the duration and severity of colds
- Packed with potassium
- May help you better absorb other nutrients (for example, taking an iron supplement with a small glass of oj or an orange will increase its absorption level)
- Good for hydration due to their high water content
- Might keep skin looking young by affecting collagen growth. Look for skin serums with vitamin C.
- May help with weight loss
Katina’s Note: A good vitamin C supplement is Ester-C™. Research indicates it is readily bioavailable and quickly enters cells. Mix it with water, tea, or your favorite juice for a quick hit of Vitamin C!
Katina Sayers is the owner/operator of Katina’s Nutritional Coaching Corner. She has an extensive background in health and education that began with degrees in exercise physiology, health and physical education, community health, and culminating with a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction. She completed an advanced certificate of study in Integrative Nutrition and Health Coaching from the renowned Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York City. For the last four years, she has worked one-on-one with clients, presented a multitude of nutrition topics for large and small audiences, contracted with businesses to implement worksite wellness initiatives, and currently manages day-to-day food service operations at a local non-profit agency, as well as directs activities related to nutrition and health. Katina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.