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March: 'Put your best fork forward'

GOSHEN, IN -- Each March, ‘National Nutrition Month’ is celebrated and slogan this month is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” The idea is that if we make small, healthy shifts in food choices when cooking at home and eating out, we can work at improving our health and the health of our family members.

Over the last few years I have written about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the recommendation of making small changes to your eating patterns to include healthier ingredients. When meal planning, work at choosing a variety of healthful foods within all the food groups, especially vegetables and fruits. Keep in mind that a variety of food will help reduce the risk of preventable, lifestyle-related chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Life is all about the choices we make and choosing to eat what our body needs and not necessarily what our mouths want, takes discipline. Eating healthy doesn’t cost more and even if it did, it would be worth being healthier. You and I both know that the evidence shows that making dietary and lifestyle changes can prevent diseases before they occur.

So if you are regular reader you already know what I am going to write next and that is that you need to plan to eat more vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, and beans and peas. When it comes to fruits, eat whole fruits. If they are canned or frozen make sure they are in juice.

Now for the grains: be a label reader and plan to have the grains you eat be whole grains. All food groups are my favorite but I could not do without the dairy group. Plan to drink and eat fat-free or low-fat dairy including milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified milk-like beverages.

Most of us think of the protein group first, I am not sure why; Americans just do. These foods include lean meats such as beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and seafood, as well as nuts, beans, peas and soy products. You also need to consider all the added fats and oils. Plan to include canola, corn, olive, peanut, sunflower and soy.

What you prepare for meals for you and your family has to work for all of you. The USDA website has lots of information as well as great recipes to help you with your healthy choices in your small steps to, “Put Your Best Fork Forward.”  Well, I wish I were at home, as having written about food has made me hungry and I would like some milk or yogurt. So I will close, reminding you that you can chose to eat healthy, and you really will feel better!