by Anna Marie Trotman

March is National Nutrition Month, sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics urges everyone to start small – one forkful at a time, and “Put Your Best Fork Forward.”

There’s a lot of misinformation out there and we, at The Birth Center, are here to support you in making healthier choices. Here are a few suggestions.

Start Small

We all begin this life expressing our needs without a problem. Babies don’t explain themselves; if they need something they let us know in no uncertain terms. They cry when they need to be fed or changed, they can’t make their own decision so we care for them and give them the best start possible. But as women, we don’t ask for what we need and we don’t often care for ourselves. By the time it’s our turn to live as a grown-up in a grown-up world we’ve spent so much time pleasing and taking care of others that somewhere along the way we’ve gotten lost. To find our way out of the confusion it’s important to take one step at a time. Even busy moms with a million things on their schedule can begin to change their eating habits one plate at a time. Start small by making some wholesome eating choices.

The first step is to reflect on how you take care of yourself, specifically your physical body. Do you start the day saying, “I’m going to stay on the straight and narrow,” no carbs, no sugar, no fat, no soda, then by noon you’re grabbing something at the drive through, something you gobble down on your way from one place to another, something that if your body could speak it would say, “what are you doing?”  It is important to listen to your body and not treat it like an uninvited weekend guest.

Begin by making an agreement with yourself that you are not going to eat in the car for a week. Eat a piece of fruit rather than stuffing down a donut or take a walk when you’re feeling tense and you think a chocolate candy bar will calm you down. Develop some strategies to help you be successful.

Oh My – What’s in That Pie?

Reading labels at the grocery store will keep unhealthy foods out of your pantry. If you flip over the box and can’t pronounce the ingredients or if there are a lot of dyesput the box back on the shelf.  Be aware of what you purchase, stay faraway from ingredients like MSG, high fructose, corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils. After a few trips to the grocery store, you will automatically begin to choose the products that promote good health.

Water with a Twist

Water is the No. 1 thing you should be drinking. At the Birth Center we love our birthday lunches, we have a wholesome meat entree, veggies, and a healthy green salad (full disclosure we did have fried chicken last summer!). There is always container of water with a kick. This month we had sparkling water with slices of lemon, blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges and lime along with a splash of pomegranate juice and sprigs of mint. It felt like a cocktail in the middle of the day. Use your imagination and make your own water with a twist.  

Pitcher of Health

You can begin to build a smarter plate by choosing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products that are packed with the nutrients you need without all the added sugars and bad fats. In addition, you can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke by eating less sodium. If you experience PMS, it’s important to eat calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified orange juice, or non-dairy milk products. Talk to your midwife about a multivitamin and/or a vitamin D supplement. Eat healthy fats like avocado, olive oil and salmon rich in omega fatty acids.

Remember you’re in charge of taking care of yourself and giving your body the nutrition it needs. For more information visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website, Eat Right.