Good nutrition often takes a back seat in America. National Nutrition Month is a good time to get in gear.
As Americans, we tend to load up on fast food and snacks rather than veggies and fruits. National Nutrition Month, which runs through March 31, is an excellent time to get our eating habits on the right track.
“National Nutrition Month is an education and information campaign that focuses attention on healthy eating and helping people become aware of its benefits,” says Stacey Stimets, administrator of Sargent College’s Nutrition and Fitness Center and a registered dietician. “Some people would miss it if it weren’t a whole month long. This way, people might hear a message more than once, and sometimes that’s what we need to focus our attention.”
Stimets says Americans consume too many refined grains and solid fats and not enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat diary products, and heart-healthy oils. “People are interested in things that taste good, are convenient, and are priced right,” she says. “They are also interested in good nutrition, but sometimes their knowledge might be based on misinformation.”
A balanced diet that includes all the food groups is important for many reasons. It promotes health and reduces the risk of a host of medical problems, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, anemia, and obesity.
The mission of the Nutrition and Fitness Center is to translate current nutrition research into practical and realistic approaches that help clients achieve their health goals, says Stimets.
Our nutritional needs differ based on our age, gender, activity level, height, and weight. The Nutrition and Fitness Center develops customized eating plans at a discounted rate for BU faculty, staff, and students. The center also offers individual counseling, group education, and faculty and staff fitness evaluations. Classes for students focus on topics like healthy dieting, vegetarian nutrition, and nutrition for exercise and sports. Plans are under way with Student Health Services to offer expanded programs beginning in the fall.
In the last couple of years, it’s been easier to maintain a balanced diet on campus, thanks to the Sargent Choice line of foods, which Stimets helped to develop. All Sargent Choice foods are made with whole grains, more fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean protein, and heart-healthy oils, and the recipes have been approved by nutrition experts at Sargent College.
“We said, let’s provide a program that is convenient, where there is a variety of foods that look and taste good and are more appealing,” Stimets says. “We wanted to give a supportive environment at BU and provide education as well.”
Meghan Noé can be reached at email@example.com.