National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the primary trade association for dietitians (licensed by states as RDN’s or Registered Dietitian Nutritionists). During the month of March, “everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.” https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month

The Academy encourages you to “personalize your plate.” Three of the four elements of this initiative are things anyone on a whole-food plant-based diet could benefit from: Cook & Prep, Meal Planning, and Vary your Diet. (The 4th, “Visit an RDN,” is only needed in certain circumstances, and in this context is sort of like having your barber recommend a haircut.)

The website includes a handout on “Vegging Out: Tips on Switching to a Meatless Diet”: https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/vegetarian-and-special-diets/vegging-out-tips-on-switching-to-a-meatless-diet. It contains good tips on switching to plant-based, including the following:

“A good first step is to review your current diet. Make a list of foods that you regularly eat, paying special attention to vegetarian foods that you like. Next, aim to incorporate these foods — along with a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans — into your eating plan. A good way to include vegetables, for example, is to add them to the foods you already enjoy, such as pasta or rice dishes.”  AND

“Plan meals around whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. This ensures a variety and balance of nutrients, including fiber, protein and health-promoting phytochemicals. … Use fresh and dried herbs and spices for extra flavor. Mustard, vinegar, hot sauce, hummus and fresh salsa are flavorful condiments.” AND

“It is a myth that vegetarians can’t get enough protein in their diets. Vegetarians easily can meet their protein needs when they eat a variety of plant proteins and get enough calories. Plant proteins can provide all the essential amino acids that your body needs. Whole grains, beans, lentils and nuts are good sources of protein. Eating a variety of different plant proteins each day helps your body store and use protein.” [Remember, these are licensed dietitians talking.]

Please leave aside the Academy’s advice on using oils (they say some are healthier than others). Rochester Lifestyle Medicine recommends that you eliminate oils from your diet on any whole-food plant-based diet. There is no need for oil; it adds empty calories (lots of them), can cause inflammation, and predisposes you to insulin resistance and risk of type 2 diabetes.

Finally, this is great advice from the handout:

“Pick up a vegetarian cookbook or search the internet for vegetarian recipes and meal ideas, and explore vegetarian foods from various global cuisines. While American cuisine can be meat-focused, it’s easy to find ample vegetarian options on many Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern menus. The supermarket is a good place to find vegetarian ingredients and ready-to-eat meatless foods from around the world.” Just keep out the oil, and exclude high-fat plant foods if you are on Rochester Lifestyle Medicine Institute’s Jumpstart: https://rochesterlifestylemedicine.org/about-jumpstart/

Nutrition Month

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