Each year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics selects a theme that helps re-gistered dietitian nutritionists spread the message of good nutrition and healthy eating throughout National Nutrition Month in March.

This year, the academy selected “Personalize Your Plate” to emphasize the importance of making healthy and informed food choices that also meet individual, cultural and personal food preferences.

How do you “Personalize Your Plate”?

You can personalize your plate by eating a variety of nutritious foods every day. Eating healthy foods that you enjoy, but that are also from all the food groups, with an emphasis on nutrient-dense foods, ensures you are consuming the nutrients needed to fuel your body and the vitamins and minerals needed to sustain your health.

It’s also important to include foods with less added sugars, saturated fat and sodium. That means choosing vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, eggs, beans, peas, lentils, unsalted nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy, lean meat and poultry.

You can personalize your plate by planning your meals each week. Planning helps you balance the foods you eat and ensures you are consuming a variety of nutrients. It also helps prevent making unplanned and often unhealthy food choices when you are in a time crunch. Another planning plus is that it can be fun, especially if you make it into a family event that includes each person’s favorite healthy dishes.

You can personalize your plate by learning new skills to create tasty meals. Enhancing your cooking skills and experimenting with new ways to flavor food can spice up recipes that you enjoy while also keeping them healthy. For example, using herbs and seasonings can enhance the flavor of your meals without having to resort to sodium. Trying different cooking techniques and equip- ment is also a way to make cooking more enjoyable and produce even more food choices to add to your plate.

Keep in mind that you want to try to enhance flavors without making your meals unhealthy. That means avoiding added sugars and limiting saturated fats and sodium and focusing on baking, broiling, grilling and roasting foods.

How do you “Balance Your Plate”?

Meals should include at least two food groups. It’s also important to have at least three different colors of food on your plate and to not “double stack” a food group. In other words, try not to have a pasta or rice and a bread at the same meal.

Start “building your plate” by filling half of it with fruits and vegetables. Next, pick a lean protein. Top off your plate with a whole grain. It is also important to pay attention to portion sizes and be cautious about what you drink.

Another way to keep track of what you are eating is to refer to a food item’s Nutrition Facts label. The label can help you make informed decisions about what’s in your food and how much of it you should eat.

As you personalize your plate, you can utilize the MyPlate nutrition guide for help. This guide depicts a place setting with a plate and glass divided into five food groups. Visit www.myplate.gov for full details.

How to spot a fad diet

If a weight loss plan looks “too good to be true,” it probably is. For example, promising more than two pounds per week of weight loss is not healthy. Another sign of a fad diet is that it cuts out an entire food group, which can make it difficult to meet your nutrient needs and can be difficult to follow over the long-term. For the best results and health, look for plans that are sustainable and include all food groups and normal eating patterns.

How can someone learn more about the nutrition services available at CRMC?

You can contact CRMC’s Outpatient Nutrition Center office at 307-633-7864.

In recognition of National Nutrition Month, CRMC’s registered dietitian nutritionists will also be sharing nutrition tips on the hospital’s website and social media sites throughout March.

Leisann Paglia is the clinical nutrition manager for Sodexo at CRMC, where she has worked for the past 24 years. She is a certified nutrition support clinician and manages the clinical nutrition team of registered dietitian nutritionists and room service nutrition techs. Paglia received her bachelor of sciences degree in Dietetics from the University of Wyoming and is a graduate of the Mayo Medical Center School of Health-Related Sciences Dietetic Internship in Rochester, Minnesota.

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