As a registered dietitian, I love to join in the celebration of National Nutrition Month each March. And this year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages you to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” for National Nutrition Month. So, what does that mean, really? Eating healthier doesn’t mean changing your entire eating pattern overnight. Small changes, made over time, can add up. “How much we eat is as important as what we eat, which is why this year’s National Nutrition Month theme inspires us to start with small changes in our eating habits,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Kristi King.

Here are my top five tips for making small changes that can add up to big health rewards.

  1. Swap dessert for fruit once a day. The simple habit of skipping that post-meal cookie for a piece of seasonal fruit—an apple, peach, or banana—can skim calories from your day and boost it with fiber, slow-digesting carbs, and important nutrients.
  2. Skip the soda. Put down that soda can. If that’s the only change you make in your diet, you could reap vast rewards, such as lowering your energy and sugar intake, trimming your weight, and reducing your risk of diabetes.
  3. Eat a whole grain for breakfast. Instead of choosing a refined grain breakfast—donuts, sugary cereal, white bagels—try a whole grain option, such as whole grain breakfast flakes, steel cut oats, or whole wheat toast. Boost your fiber, lower your cholesterol levels, and feel more full as a result.
  4. Add one more veggie to your plate. Just add one more type of vegetable to your dinner plate—a side salad, bowl of vegetable soup, roasted broccoli, or sautéed zucchini—and you will load your day with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals.
  5. Go meatless one day a week. Even if you don’t want to become a total vegetarian or vegan, you can gain benefits by cutting down on meat and pushing up plant proteins. So, choose one day a week to skip the meat, and focus on beans, lentils, tofu, or nuts as your protein source.

As part of National Nutrition Month, the Academy’s website includes articles, recipes, videos and educational resources to spread the message of good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. You can also follow National Nutrition Month on the Academy’s social media channels including Facebook and Twitter using #NationalNutritionMonth.

Image: Edamame Masala with Brown Basmati Rice, Sharon Palmer, RDN

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