National Nutrition Month-by Devon Brownlee, MS, RD, LDN
March is National Nutrition Month! This is a month full of education and increased awareness started by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to encourage healthy eating and physical activity. Rather than promoting a select theme this year, the Academy is encouraging greater flexibility in communicating healthful messages. For this month, National Nutrition Month will be honored as its own theme focusing on its original purpose to ‘increase the public’s awareness of the importance of good nutrition’.
As part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular physical activity along with a healthy diet is necessary for sustainable weight management and optimal wellbeing. By participating in 30 minutes of exercise daily for adults and 60 minutes for children, you can help prevent your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke which are deemed the three leading health-related causes of death. Daily exercise provides additional benefits such as restful sleep, promotes strong bone, muscle, and joint health, improved energy and self-esteem, as well as longer-life among many others.
While increased physical activity is important for overall health, it can be challenging to get outside and move more in the cold winter months. Listed below are some fun ideas for you and your family to try at home:
- Dance during TV commercials for 10 – 15 minutes, limiting total screen time to 2 hours or less daily.
- Shoveling snow or other household chores such as cleaning/vacuuming can be great, productive workouts! Aim for 25 – 35 minutes, put on some upbeat music as you work to get moving!
- Visit the local park for some sledding, snowshoeing, or ice skating.
- Check your local gym for fun group classes such as Zoomba or Yoga. Our fitness Center here at the Whittier Street Health Center is open to both patients and community members and offers cardiovascular equipment as well as weights for individual training and holds group fitness classes. This is also a great way to meet other families!
- Bundle up to play in the snow for 30 minutes or build a snow man.
- Try a workout class at home, visit YouTube for easy ideas such as yoga classes, body-weight training, or dance routines.
To warm up and refuel after playing in the snow, head to the kitchen to try this healthy hot chocolate you can prepare at home:
You will need:
1 cup, plus 1-2 tablespoons low-fat or fat-free milk of choice (you can also try almond or soy milk for a dairy-free alternative)
2 rounded teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon raw sugar or sweetener of choice (try Stevia for a natural sugar replacement)
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon
Let’s make it!
Place milk in a small pot over medium-low heat.
Meanwhile, place cocoa powder, sugar, and extra tablespoon of milk into a small mixing bowl. Whisk until a pasta/thick mixture forms and all dry powder is absorbed. Add additional tablespoon of milk if needed.
Mix cocoa mixture into warmed milk, heat to hot but not boiling. Stir in vanilla.
Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.
Sip and enjoy!
Try one or more of these ideas this week with your family, or brainstorm your own! Check out the fitness center here at the Whittier Street Health Center for some extra encouragement. We welcome all ages and abilities to join in on the fun! Our fitness coach is happy to answer any questions you may have to help you and your family get moving.