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Nutrition Newsletter
Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Services Newsletter

Shape Up Your Plate for National Nutrition Month & Beyond…

By: Sarah Kavlich, RD

Each March, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) encourages Americans to return to the basics of healthy eating by consuming the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy through a month long campaign called “National Nutrition Month.” 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, founded in 1917, is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is dedicated to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.

National Nutrition Month began in 1973 as a week-long event known as, "National Nutrition Week."  In 1980 the event expanded into a month-long observance as a response to growing public awareness in nutrition. To recognize the dedication of registered dietitians as the leading advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world, the second Wednesday of each March is celebrated as "Registered Dietitian Day."  2012 marks the fifth annual Registered Dietitian Day.

The theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Shape Up Your Plate,” after the 2011 MyPlate campaign launch by the USDA which replaced MyPyramid. The initiative of MyPlate (as seen below) is to divide your plate into four sections: fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins, as well as a glass to represent a dairy product.  Click here to go to find examples of foods for each section of your plate, portion sizes, benefits, and helpful tips.

Shaping up your plate is about balancing your calories.  You should enjoy your food, but avoid oversized portions. Increase some foods while reducing others. By ensuring that half of your plate is made up of fruits and vegetables you will feel full without going overboard on calories. Make at least half of your grains whole by choosing brown rice, whole wheat bread, and quinoa. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk and dairy products. You can reduce your sodium intake by reading food labels on various foods such as: soups, bread, and frozen meals and choosing foods that are lower in sodium. Lastly, make sure to drink water or sugar free beverages in place of sugary ones.

What better time to re-vamp what’s on your plate than spring.  March marks the end of the winter season and the beginning of spring when various fruits and vegetables like broccoli, beets, blood oranges, chard, kale, lemons, mushrooms, and strawberries are beginning to wake up from their long winter’s nap and make their grand entrance onto your plate.  Planning your meals around fruits and vegetables that are in season will make shopping easier, not to mention foods that are fresh will taste better. Click here to visit to find a recipe using kale. (*Substitute whole wheat pasta to increase the fiber content.)  Serve this pasta with a side of roasted asparagus topped with orange segments to shape up your plate!

Make March your start for simple changes to last a lifetime.



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