Just when you thought you couldn’t celebrate another important month, March comes out of the gate screaming “nutrition” and “eat right!” The National Nutrition campaign began as a weeklong celebration in 1973, complete with a presidential proclamation, TV and radio ads, and bumper stickers sporting the slogan “Invest in Yourself—Buy Nutrition.”
The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) is credited with organizing the week, and dietetic professionals quickly caught on to promote health and nutrition to schools, healthcare facilities, and community centers.
Then, in 1980, amid an increasing popularity of eating healthy among Americans, the House of Delegates called for an expansion of National Nutrition Week to National Nutrition Month. By the mid-1980s, nearly half of all academy members, mostly registered dieticians, had a hand in the annual events surrounding the month and, although marked with controversy, even McDonald’s partnered with the academy in 1993 to teach children about the Food Guide Pyramid.
For the past 44 years, academy members have kept National Nutrition Month running strong, planning and organizing local and national events, helping other dieticians, and staying true to the original mission: “To increase the public’s awareness of the importance of good nutrition and position academy members as the authorities in nutrition.” The theme for 2017 is “Put Your Best Foot Forward.” Each forkful counts. Make a small change now, and reap the benefits later.
So now that you know a little background information and this year’s slogan, you might be thinking: ‘OK great, but what do I do now?’
Here you go, try a few of these:
- Have a nutrition author or expert come to speak to a group to which you might belong. This list has great author suggestions for a starting point.
- This is one of my favorites since I live with a chef, and will consequently coerce him to partake in National Nutrition Month: Plan your own cooking class or party. Invite a local school dietician or a chef from your favorite restaurant (or one with whom you live) to do a short cooking/nutritional demo. Check eatright.org for promotional materials, recipes and valuable handouts on cooking and preparation for your guests.
- For the rest of the month, make the commitment to try a new fruit or vegetable each week with your family or on your own.
- No doubt there is a local food bank somewhere near you. Grab some neighbors, coworkers, friends and family, and have everyone donate healthy foods for a good cause.
- Sit down with your kiddos (if you have any, that is) and play a fun game about nutrition. The library usually has a plethora of books on eating healthy, so if you’re on screen-time overload with your little ones, spend an hour picking out a few books to read. You might even learn something yourself.
- Speaking of libraries, have a chat with your librarian to see if you can volunteer to lead a story time or a kids’ art hour/coloring contest in conjunction with National Nutrition Month, or find out if they have one already. Don’t forget the adults; you can educate them as well…because no one is too old to learn how to eat right.