March is National Nutrition Month.
While it’s great to promote the message of healthy eating for at least 31 days, getting employees excited about a nutritious diet can be tough.
Not many people are jumping up and down with excitement to eat kale. 😜
Nevertheless, this awareness month presents a perfect opportunity to share key nutrition points with your employees.
Here’s a few National Nutrition Month ideas and messages that may encourage your employees to try a little more kale:
1. Embrace the Healthy Eating Lifestyle Benefits
The body is like a car in that it needs the correct fuel to keep going. If you constantly put low-quality fuel in your tank, you're going to run into health problems. Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure are just a few of the consequences of a poor diet. Consider this: Is it more inconvenient to chop veggies for a salad each day or go to the doctor a few times a month because healthy eating wasn’t a priority?
Key takeaway: Ask yourself how you want to feel. Next time greasy or high-sugar foods tempt you, think of how you felt the last time you ate those foods. It may encourage you to choose more wisely.
2. Don’t Shoot for Perfection
Diets are full of rules. And the one you'll do best on is the one that you'll stick to because it works for you. Not your favorite celebrity. Not your best friend. Not your co-worker. You. Consider changes in your eating patterns as healthy lifestyle changes instead of a diet.
Key takeaway:It’s best to keep it simple. Eating right doesn't have to be as complicated as you think. Stick to an 80-20 rule — as long as you eat healthy 80% of the time, you’re probably doing fine.
3. Choose Quality Over Quantity
While a plate of greasy french fries may sound really appetizing, it's unlikely full of quality nutrients the body actually needs. Instead, if you want a starchy fix, consider how you can get quality nutrients while still fulfilling your craving. A sweet potato topped with black beans and corn or even a homemade avocado dressing is a better choice to up your dietary fiber and vitamins intake.
Key takeaway: Be mindful of portion sizes. Are you really that hungry, or does the food just look good? High-quality fruits and veggies are always a better pick over convenient, pre-packed foods.
4. Sugar is Sneaky
Unfortunately, added sugar is in a lot of the foods most of us consider healthy. Yogurt, fruit juices, condiments, and salad dressings, are just a few of the top offenders. To make it even more challenging, sugar has at least 61 different names it goes by. To name a few: Sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, barley malt, dextrose, maltose, and rice syrup.
Key takeaway: The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar per day for males, and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for female. Read labels carefully to make sure you’re not getting added sugars without knowing it.
5. Ask Nutrition Experts
When in doubt, ask the experts. You can only turn to Dr. Google so much. A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can offer nutrition advice based on your preferences, lifestyle, and health needs. You won't find a nutritionist offering tips for a crash diet, but they will offer a way to overhaul eating habits that can cause disease and other issues.
Key takeaway: Diets and new lifestyle changes are tricky to make sometimes.To find a nutrition expert in your area, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website.
6. Snacks Can Be Healthy
If you find yourself starving by the end of the work day, you probably didn't get enough necessary nutrients and fiber. Adding healthy snacks throughout the day — like almonds or fruit — can keep energy levels stable. It also prevents binge eating later on when it’s meal time.
Key takeaway: Avoiding convenience foods in the work vending machine can be challenging. Always have healthy go-to options on hand when hunger strikes during the work day.
National Nutrition Month Tips to Share
Shop Local: Visit your local farmer’s market for fresh fruits and veggies. You’ll support local businesses and eat what’s in season.
Plan Ahead: See what you already have in your cabinets and pantry before running to the store. Make a shopping list ahead of time based on how many meals you’ll need to make.
Store Food Properly: Don’t overbuy produce or you’ll end up wasting it. When you properly store fruits and veggies, it lasts longer. Store fruits and veggies in separate drawers.
Prep: Get all your perishable foods prepared right after shopping. Chop up veggies and fruits to store in clear storage containers. You’ll have healthy snacks and meal ingredients at your fingertips when hunger strikes.
Give it Away: Buy too much? Going on vacation soon and have leftovers? Share with a neighbor. If it’s pre-packaged and not opened, donate it to your local food bank so it doesn’t end up in a landfill.
Make Nutrition a Key Component of Wellness Plans
National Nutrition Month is a great time to bring up healthy eating habits and lifestyle changes to your employees. However, healthy eating habits are paramount to an overall healthy lifestyle.
Poor eating habits and physical inactivity contributes to many preventable diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic yet preventable diseases are responsible for the loss of productivity and reduces economic output by $260 billion per year.
By starting conversations during National Nutrition Month, it encourages employees to consider small changes they can make to work on their health.
Want more insight and tools for promoting National Nutrition Month? Learn more about National Nutrition Month on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.
How will your office celebrate National Nutrition Month? Share in the comments below, or share your office pictures on our Facebook page using #NationalNutritionMonth!