Friday, March 1, 2013

National Nutrition Month: What it means to me

Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.

This is me as a toddler, enjoying good food. No rules. I was, and still am, a food-loving rebel!  And look, I even gave this delicious food a "thumbs-up"....I think it was homemade spaghetti.

Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day. That's the theme for this year's National Nutrition Month, which starts today, March 1st, 3013.

Learn more here!

This month, and beyond, remember that dietitians like me, as well as other healthcare professionals are here to guide you, give you tips, and provide positive encouragement to help you feel your best, not to tell you what to eat, when to eat it, where to eat, or how much you should or should not eat.  Why?  Because no one really knows the perfect way to eat.  No one.  Not even that Dr. on TV.  Everyone has the right to feel good and look great, and everyone has the right to Eat Right, Their Way, Every Day!

I like to eat right, my way, every day too.  No matter what that magazine article says, I'm still going to eat past 6pm on most nights, and have two pieces of cake instead of one small tiny piece on certain special occasions.

Like on this night, last month, when I ate 3 pieces. Hey, I turned 30. So what?

And if I want to make a dirty martini (with blue cheese stuffed olives) from this extra large vodka bottle (wowza! I found this in my parent's cabinets) and enjoy every salty sip, I will.

I mean, you hear it every day from people like me, "Everything fits into a healthy diet".  Right?  Some people think this statement that is way too general.  But it's true!  I can have my martini, or cake, or chocolate (times three), because the majority of my diet is made up of this...... 


Fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and vegetables (not in the photo above, obviously, but you know I eat tons and tons of veggies).


The Journal of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently published a position paper, seen above.  The title of the paper was "Total Approach to Healthy Eating".  This was a nice segue to this year's National Nutrition Month, because it highlighted the importance of focusing on variety, moderation, and proportionality in the context of a healthy lifestyle, instead of focusing on single nutrients or targeting specific nutrients. Generally a total diet approach is meant to reduce consumer confusion and consumer reliance on supplements.

  • Variety:  Refers to an eating pattern that includes foods from all MyPlate food groups and subgroups (grains, proteins, dairy (or alternatives), fruits, vegetables, oils, and SoFAS too! ie: Solid Fats and Added Sugars)
  • Proportionality:  Eating more nutrient-dense foods and beverages (ie: foods that have fewer calories and more nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and less of others (such as those SoFAS from above)
  • Moderation:  Limiting overall portion size (get a smaller plate, it helps) and choosing foods to limit intake of saturated fats and added sugars (ie: look for reduced fat versions of cheeses and leaner version of meats, and try to aim for lower sugar snacks, such as those that contains less than 10 grams of sugar).

Visit to see your personal guidelines.

OK, so what does "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day" mean to me, as a dietitian?!

  • Only you should decide what to eat, no one else should decide for you.
  • There is no right or wrong way to eat, as everyone has a different lifestyle and schedule to follow.  The only right way is your own personal way!  Want to eat three meals and no snacks? Fine! Want to eat four meals and two snacks?  Ok!  Want to eat something before you workout? Sure, why not?! Want to workout on an empty stomach? If you prefer that, do it! The key is to find what works best for you.  We are all unique and there isn't one perfect way for everyone.
  • When it comes to specific nutrient distributions, some people feel better inside, and out, on a higher carbohydrate, lower fat diet, while others feel better on a higher protein and lower carb and intermediate fat diet (me!). Not everyone fits into the perfect mold determined by the latest research.  And remember, research is dynamic, just as nutrition is dynamic.
  • We need to remind ourselves not to let the media overly manipulate us and dictate what we do or do not eat.  If we let this happen, food becomes a stressor.  This is not at all what it should be.  When you feel lost or don't know what to do with your diet, get help from an RD who can guide you on the right path to follow for your own personal nutrient needs, depending on your background, lifestyle, cultural preferences, and overall goals.
My lifestyle is one that leaves me constantly on the go.  I rarely sit down to a full meal, but instead I snack throughout the day.  This is not the right way to eat for everyone, but it's the right way for me.

I plan to celebrate the month by continuing to educate and help people see food in a positive light, and not as a stressful part of their day.   I plan to do some unique demos at work that incorporate fruits, veggies, whole grains and yogurts so people can see that healthy foods can also be tasty foods.  I specifically want to focus on kids this month, and get the younger generation to learn just how tasty it can be to eat healthy!  And of course, I'm also going to indulge a bit, because every healthy diet should include a nice indulgence.  Cheers!

QUESTION:  What does this year's theme mean to you?  How will you celebrate this year's National Nutrition Month?

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd

NOTE: I love comments!  But, be sure to come back to read any replies to questions or comments, as they do not go directly to your e-mail.


  1. oh I love that first picture of you as a toddler! too cute!

  2. you nailed it woman! eat right YOUR way! what makes you thrive. everyone is so different! But i like your style, we think alike with the dirty martini. LOL!

  3. I love this post! Such great information AND written by an RD - we are the nutrition experts! Love it!

  4. Good for you, Gina! I know your customers will love your unique (and delicious!) demos. I really like this year's NNM message because, really, everyone is SO different with such different needs.

    Love that first pic! ;)

  5. This is great information, thank you! Super cute pics, too :)

  6. Loved this post! What a "laid back" kind of way to look at a healthy life style. I totally agree that there is a balance to everything (so dessert and treats are allowed as long as you are eating well and balanced most of the time). Furthermore, agree that eating well means different things to different people and can be taylored to different life styles. Posts like this make me want to join an RD program. :) thanks for sharing this great perspective!

  7. You toddler pic is soooo adorable!

  8. Aww you were a cutie :) I love this post and totally agree with it! I also am big into small meals/snacks all day. A few months ago I stopped eating my 3 pm snack because I got busy and I started to notice I was gaining weight, it just doesn't work for me to get rid of snacks! :)

  9. You were such a cutie Gina. And I really like this post. Thank you as always for all your insight and great info.

  10. Love it! As a self professed foodie, I'm all for moderation and the 80/20 rule. I find that many Registered Dietitians and health care professionals push for very strict diet plans and they'll actually make you feel bad for eating meat and processed foods. I was taught never to label foods as either good or bad because clients will crave the "bad" foods more. I'm glad we're on the same page.

    Cheers to cake!


  11. Great post Gina! Everything in moderation :)

  12. Perfectly said Gina! And, love both the toddler and the 30th bday pics -)

  13. I so agree with this. Whenever anyone asks me about eating healthy I tell them pretty much the same thing. I eat healthy a lot of the time, and i'm not gonna deprive myself or beat myself up for the occasional doughnut or piece of pizza.