Are you eating the right amount or the right foods to provide your body with the amount of nutrients and vitamins it needs to function?
According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels of calories from solid fats and sugars, refined grains, sodium and saturated fat.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offered these sobering statistics:
• In 2015-16, the prevalence of obesity in the United States was 39.8 percent and affected about 93.3 million adults.
• Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death.
• The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollar. The medical cost for people who have obesity was an average of $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
March is National Nutrition Month, and it’s the perfect opportunity to start looking into your diet and reevaluating daily food choices. The annual nutrition education and information campaign was started by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and, of course, is embraced by Monongalia County Health Department’s Women, Infants, and Children’s program.
The month revolves around spreading the importance of developing healthy eating and lifestyle habits, such as following ChooseMyPlate.gov to help guide people toward healthy foods and portions.
Here are some health tips for making healthier food choices:
• Make smart swaps when cooking your favorite meals. Instead of using solid fats, use canola, olive or peanut oil instead. Use brown rice instead of white rice. Supplement white flour with whole wheat flour.
• Half of your plate should consist of fruits or vegetables. Vary your vegetables and try to go for more whole fruits.
• Try to drink water instead of fruit juices and carbonated drinks. The recommendation for adults is to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. But some people might require more, especially if they exercise and sweat a lot, said Darla Retton, a nutritionist for MCHD WIC.
• Maximize your intake of nutrient-packed foods such as whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables and low-fat or fat-free dairy.
• Make half your grains whole grains.
• Include plant protein foods in your diet such as beans, peas, soy products, nuts and seeds.
• Drink and eat less sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.
MCHD WIC helps those who qualify with nutrition counseling and food packages, as well as breastfeeding advice.
“Every month is National Nutrition Month at WIC,” Darla says. “We are nutrition. We provide healthy foods for families, building healthy futures one day at a time.”
WIC clients are pregnant, postpartum and/or breastfeeding women and their infants and children up to the age 5 who meet certain income guidelines.
“WIC teaches moms how to eat while pregnant or breastfeeding and what to feed their growing children,” Darla added.
WIC nutritionists are aware that money is tight and that the food assistance and referrals are helpful. Families receive free supplemental foods to meet their immediate nutritional needs while learning how to choose healthy foods that provide the necessary nutrients for each person’s diet. In West Virginia, 265 grocery stores across are WIC-approved.
And even though WIC focuses on pregnant and breastfeeding women and infants and children up to age 5, “Healthy eating is important no matter how old you are,” Darla says.
Think you may qualify for WIC? Call MCHD WIC at (304) 598-5181