National Nutrition Month Is Here! by Deb Glasser, MS, RD

March is National Nutrition Month and this year is different in that the month is being honored as its own theme. Going along with this, I’m hoping to bring some nutrition awareness to the impact of daily diet.

Q: What small manageable daily changes can I make to yield big results over time?

Part 1: Make good choices.

Do you religiously pour 2 or more packets of sugar in your coffee in the morning or order your specialty drink flavored? “Vanilla latte” for example? “Caramel macchiato”? Flavored coffee drinks have a shocking amount of added sugar and decreasing that amount over time can dramatically impact weight and blood sugar levels. Fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does. For example, if you drink a grande vanilla latte five times per week for a year, you will have consumed 9,135 grams of sugar, or 2,284 teaspoons from “coffee” alone. A teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories and body weight increases by a pound for every 3,500 excess calories consumed. Drinking that deliciously sweet vanilla latte equates to more than 36,000 calories, about 10 pounds of weight over the course of a year! Try halving the sugar for starters. Reducing the sweetness of your morning Joe could save you nearly 18,000 calories or five whole pounds. You may even begin to develop an appreciation for the actual coffee, unmasked by the sugary sweet flavors we’ve grown accustomed to.

Part 2: Be mindful of portion size.

Portion size has grown exponentially over the last few decades. A popular reference to increased portion sizes is McDonald’s French fries. In 1955, an order was 2.4 ounces-and there was only ONE size. Now a small order of fries is 2.6 ounces with 230 calories. A large is more than double that amount in size and subsequently calories (all 510 of them!). Restaurants are often judged on the quantity rather than the quality of food served. Just because a plate has been placed in front of you, does not mean every single morsel needs to be consumed. Often, the logical (and more economical) choice is take half of a meal home. Exercise your will power and take half of your meal home. Pay attention to your body and how full you feel rather than racing to win the clean plate honor. That mindfulness can often lead to weight loss, especially over time.

This month, bring some awareness to the food that you put in your body: both quantity and quality. Eat lots of plants, limit sugary drinks (see above) and check in with your body. Stop eating when you feel full! Just try it. Results may include weight loss, drops in blood sugar, LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure-all things your body will thank you for. Small changes over time can have a big impact!

Happy National Nutrition Month.

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