By: Emily Tolino ‘16, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator
March is National Nutrition Month! Each year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsors 30 days of nutrition education and activities. The goal of the program is to raise awareness of the importance of eating right and the resources available to assist the public in achieving overall health. National Nutrition Month is a time when health professionals encourage and educate the public about realistic and easy strategies to improve health.
The theme of National Nutrition Month 2016 is Savor the Flavor of Eating Right! When it comes to nutrition, the individual nutrients a food contains are just the beginning. While it is important to consider the composition of a meal when thinking about how to eat healthy, it is just as important to consider the atmosphere surrounding the eating experience. Taking the time to enjoy food and the traditional and emotional associations that accompany it can make all the difference.
Here are the Top 4 ways you can Savor the Flavor:
- Enjoy the Moment: Why do we eat? Food doesn’t only satisfy a physiological hunger; the peripheral associations are just as important. Eating food often invites feelings of comfort and familiarity. Dinnertime rituals and familial traditions can make eating extremely important. Taking the time to enjoy the company around you and make memories is essential for optimal health.
- Enjoying the Moment at UMD: At the dining hall this week, ask all your friends to place their cell phones in the center of the table during the meal. Take the time to enjoy the sights and sounds of a family dinner. First one to grab his/her phone buys the group dessert!
- Mindful Eating: Think about the last time you scarfed down a meal while walking to class or watching TV. Chances are that the food wasn’t very satisfying. Mindless eating, or eating with distraction, prevents a person from savoring the flavor of their food. Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to each bite of food and limiting distractions when eating. Eating mindfully allows a person to feel more satisfied while eating than a person eating the same amount of food mindlessly.
- Mindful Eating at UMD: Take your food to go from the dining hall or pack some snacks from your apartment and go out to McKeldin Mall to eat! McKeldin is one of the most beautiful areas on our campus and a perfect spot to practice mindful eating. Find a comfy patch of grass and feel the breeze and the warmth of the sun while enjoying each and every bite.
- Add some variety: When it comes to healthy eating, don’t limit yourself to foods within your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to branch out and try new things! Go to a restaurant from a culture that is not your own. Pick up an unfamiliar item in the grocery store and look for creative recipes. Mixing up mealtimes with new and exciting foods or traditions will make savoring the flavor or eating right fun!
- Adding variety at UMD: Go beyond the dining hall! This week, pick up something from the Maryland Co-op, located in the basement of Stamp near the TerpZone Arcade! The Co-op has lots of fun foods, such as homemade guacamole and crowd-pleasing falafel!
- Visit a professional: A Registered Dietitian is the most qualified person to help you savor the flavor. In order to become a Registered Dietitian, a person must achieve an undergraduate degree in Dietetics, becoming proficient in the biochemical interactions between food and the human body. After graduation, a person must complete a yearlong accredited dietetic internship, gaining experience in a variety of work environments. Finally, a person must pass a national registration exam. A Registered Dietitian can help you establish healthy eating habits and come up with realistic strategies to help them meet their goals.
- Visiting a professional at UMD: There are lots of opportunities to discuss nutrition on campus. Visit the Health Center to meet with a Nutrition Coach; this free service helps college students, faculty, and staff develop healthy habits within the restraints of a busy college lifestyle. A Registered Dietitian is also available in the Health Center to help students navigate the challenges of college eating.
During National Nutrition Month, practice savoring the flavor of eating right. Taking the time to appreciate food and the eating experience will help keep you satisfied all year long! For more information on how you can savor the flavor, visit Nutrition Coaching by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing UHCfirstname.lastname@example.org.