This post was written by our own Kathryn Dickens, Floor Manager and resident Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Good Foods Co-op. She’s co-teaching a three-part class series that continues through March about diets and healthful eating with Annie Koempel, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.
March has been designated National Nutrition Month® by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. As a registered dietitian, I am inspired to think about how we can more intentionally celebrate good nutrition and make it more of a focus as we enter into the newness of Spring and prime Kentucky growing season. So how exactly does one celebrate a month like this? Below are some of the ways we can think more about our food and eating choices and begin to develop some positive and lasting nutrition practices.
STRIVE FOR VARIETY
If I could emphasize one piece of nutrition advice for everyone, it would be to work toward as much variety in your diet as you can muster. When we enjoy a wide variety of foods from the major groups (vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy, meat/protein) we are getting the absolute most out of our diets and need to worry less about obtaining all of the important micronutrients found abundantly in whole foods. Vitamin and mineral supplements certainly have their place, but getting our nutrition from food is the best, and most delicious way to ensure we are getting what we need nutritionally.
TRY SOMETHING NEW (a new food, recipe, gardening, CSA…..)
During the month of March, take the opportunity to explore your nutrition curiosities. Got a recipe or ingredient you’ve wanted to try? Maybe you’ve always wanted to purchase a CSA share, or start growing some of your own vegetables. Start putting those plans into action this month. We have two events coming up this Saturday and Sunday to help kick these goals into gear: our monthly Sampling Saturday event and annual Seeds, Sprouts, and CSAs Spring Festival.
DEVELOP THOSE COOKING SKILLS
I understand not everyone loves to cook, but I really believe having a basic understanding of food preparation and regularly practicing those skills is foundational to good nutrition and is the easiest way to customize our diets to suit us individually. Cooking allows you to experiment with ingredients, find what you love and what makes you feel your best, and puts you in full control of your diet. It’s also a great way to maximize your food budget. Not to mention it can be really fun and personally rewarding.
Often cooking means sharing. Whether that’s sitting down to dinner with your family, throwing a simple potluck with neighbors, or arranging a lunch date with your best friend, being together and sharing food with others is maybe the best way to celebrate nutrition…and celebrate life in general, really.
HELP FOLKS GET FED
The Kentucky Association of Food Banks reports that 1 out of 6 Kentuckians is food insecure. There is always work to be done to help improve this statistic in our state, but the good news is there are myriad ways you can help fight hunger within this community. It can be as simple as dropping your non-perishable food items in one of the Co-op’s God’s Pantry Food Bank donation bins or even getting more involved and volunteering your time and/or resources to local hunger nonprofits. There are little things we can all do to make a difference here.
BE MINDFUL OF FOOD WASTE
When you’re aware of just how many folks go without food on a daily basis, you start to notice how much food goes to waste when it doesn’t have to. Reducing waste is one thing we can all become more mindful of when we shop, store, and prepare food. A little awareness of what we already have “in stock” at home and then buying only what we can reasonably eat (if highly perishable) means less food in the trash can. And when some food inevitably does go to waste on our watch, thinking about how we can repurpose or recycle (e.g. making stock from veggie scraps, composting) food could be a next step in reducing the amount of food that goes into the garbage.
Local food is having its moment here in Lexington. You already know we are ALL about local food here at the Co-op and we want to help drive that interest throughout the community. Supporting local food means a thriving local economy, supporting the farmers and producers that make Kentucky a delicious place to live, reducing dependence on fossil fuels for transport of food, and fresher, more nutritious food for Kentucky residents. All great things.
TALK TO A DIETITIAN
Lastly, celebrate this month by celebrating dietitians. Obviously, this is near to my heart, but dietitians exist to help make better nutrition more accessible and achievable for all. Ask your doctor about speaking with one or come see me at the Co-op for shopping help (regular “office hours” to be announced soon)!
However you focus on your nutrition this month, have fun with it. Take the opportunity to enhance your life through good food and nutrition practices.