Finding the right diet and physical activitiesMarch is a time to promote dieting and physical activity through The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape,” which Registered Dietician and academy spokesperson Dee Sandquist said is all about making informed food choices in addition to developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
March is a time to promote dieting and physical activity through The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Nutrition Month.
This year’s theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape,” which Registered Dietician and academy spokesperson Dee Sandquist said is all about making informed food choices in addition to developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
“The first step is awareness and that’s really what we’re trying to do,” she said.
The academy is an organization of food and nutritional professionals with more than 72,000 members, according to its website.
Sandquist said one of our culture’s biggest challenges is that most people want a quick fix for self-improvement with diet, nutrition and physical activity.
“A lot of people want habits to go away overnight that have been plaguing them for 20 years, but we’re trying to emphasize small changes to get things started,” she said.
The New Year has led some prospective dieters to look for the latest in fad dieting, but Essentia Health’s Nursing Supervisor Krystal Hovda said it’s about finding the correct, healthy diet for each individual.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions out there, but what I stress to all of my patients is portion control with their meals,” she said.
Hovda works with many patients who have diabetes, but said she tells them it’s not about what they eat, but rather how much they eat.
Those smaller-portioned meals should also include more fruits, vegetables and grains than most are currently eating, according to Anita Berland, Women, Infants and Children nutrition program director with Central Valley Health District.
“For kids especially, healthy snacks rather than the candy and sugars that so many are used to, can go a long way,” she said.
Jamestown Public Schools is taking measures to help children improve their food choices, according to Food Service Director Shelley Mack.
“We provide salad bars. We offer the kids a number of fruit and vegetable choices, and we’re trying to move in the direction of 100 percent whole grain,” she said.
The schools are also watching trans-fat and sodium levels more closely than ever, Mack said.
With adults, Central Valley Health Registered Nurse Angie Allmer finds cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure to be among the biggest concerns.
“As a culture, we’re getting worse in terms of health concerns because of the easy access to fast food,” she said.
While Allmer said healthier food options are often more expensive, they can help toward developing better nutritional habits.
“We want to emphasize taking things out of people’s diets such as fried foods, cream-based pastas and sauces and replacing them with more oats, barley and fruit,” she said.
Many people also make the mistake of losing track of their calories, according to Matt Odin, owner of New Age Fitness and Tanning in Jamestown.
“The idea is to keep it simple. Too many people make the mistake of taking in too few or too many calories or failing to burn enough calories on a daily basis,” he said.
Diet and nutrition are half the battle, but with that comes an awareness of physical activity levels.
Starting slow and not trying to do too much too fast are important concepts, said Megan Gilmartin, Registered Nurse with Johns Hopkins University Hospital.
“Exercise habits begin with little things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, getting off the bus-stop a few blocks early just to get some more walking in,” she said.
Gilmartin said 30 minutes of exercise per day three times a week is a solid starting point for beginners. She said that amount can be intimidating for some, but she recommends different ways of achieving that goal.
“Doing a couple sets of jumping jacks, pushups or crunches during commercial breaks of TV shows is just one example of increasing physical activity and getting your heart rate going that can go a long way,” she said.
Exercise, while it takes a time commitment, has to be something each person makes time for during his or her busy day, said Becca Olson, club manager of Anytime Fitness in Jamestown.
“People have kids, work and other activities, but once you make some time in your day to exercise it becomes a lot easier to get into a routine,” she said.
The academy is a national organization, but Sanquist said it is working with state dietetic associations in addition to local associations to promote National Nutrition Month nationwide.
For more information about National Nutrition Month, including additional nutritional resources, visit the academy’s website at www.eatright.org.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org