March is National Nutrition Month. Since its inception, the purpose of National Nutrition Month has been to promote balanced nutrition as a key component to a healthy lifestyle. This year’s theme – “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” – promotes the importance of making informed food choices, developing healthy eating habits and getting regular physical activity. A healthy lifestyle incorporates everyday lifestyle choices, routines and habits – it goes beyond eating choices. However, making healthier food selections is an excellent first “bite” in developing healthy habits for life.
As part of National Nutrition Month, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day was celebrated on March 11. Almost anyone can refer to themselves as a “nutritionist,” but the designation “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist” or RDN has stringent academic and professional requirements. Beyond these requirements, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are 100 percent committed to helping people engage in healthy lifestyles. When you consult an RDN, you are receiving advice from an educated, trained and trusted expert who has your health and happiness as their top priority.
To start developing healthy habits, or to simply ask questions about nutrition and health, talk to your Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Ask your primary care provider or Patient Aligned Care Team for a referral. Check out this position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, validating the importance nutrition plays in managing and preventing the exacerbation of chronic diseases. The inclusion of an RDN in the interdisciplinary care team for prevention and treatment of chronic diseases improves health outcomes significantly.
If you want to better manage your weight, the VA has the MOVE! weight management program, which provides a comprehensive and supportive approach to weight management. Also, if you are interested in learning more about healthy cooking, check out whether your VA or local community offers healthy cooking classes. Check with your local VA and find out if there is a nutrition health fair or other events going on that you can attend. Check out the National Nutrition Month® website for more information and handy tips to get started making healthy lifestyle changes.
Melanya Kushla, RDN is the wellness dietitian for the Malcom Randall VAMC in Gainesville, Florida. She teaches cooking classes as part of the Healthy Teaching Kitchen program, provides individual outpatient counseling, and supports the MOVE! weight management series. Melanya completed her degree in food science, nutrition and health promotion, as well as her dietetic internship, at Mississippi State University.