Go Further with Food

By Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDE March 14, 2018Pearls of Wisdom Blog

It’s the great annual celebration of all things nutrition—National Nutrition Month®. Why is National Nutrition Month® important?  Because we all need a little shake-up to our routine to remind us to think about what we eat, why we eat, and how we can protect our food supply.

The 2018 theme for the month is “Go Further with Food.” It can have several meanings: Fuel up for peak performance. Live up to your potential with healthy food choices. Eat only what you need. Support local food growers. Foods, not fads, are the source of health. Focus on your overall eating styles, not on a single meal or food. Plan your meals so you can make your food go further. Reduce food waste and make surplus food available to those in need.

Reflecting on this year’s nutrition theme made me realize how different our food supply, meals, and quality of food are today than in my parents’ or grandparents’ lifetime. In the early to mid-1900s, families ate what was available from their gardens, groceries, and pantries. There were few leftovers at meal time in our home. The meal portions were modest in comparison to today. When you ran out of a food, you made the meal work without it, instead of running to a convenience store. If you had more than you needed, you shared with a neighbor or your church. Cooking and baking were two weekly activities at home in which many Americans now have limited or no skills.

In 2018, food habits are very different. In fact, every week several patients tell me that they don’t know how to plan or cook a meal, much less preserve leftover food for later use. How do your meal skills measure up?

Americans today often eat without thinking until a catastrophic diagnosis, such as cancer, comes into their life. Cancer changes everything. Food choices become more important, a priority instead of an afterthought. More thought suddenly goes into planning meals and snacks, budgeting for fresh foods, and trying different cooking techniques. Everyone is ready to give you nutrition advice on how to fight cancer. Yet, side effects may be chopping away at your appetite and joy of eating.

Here are some simple steps to go further with food even after a cancer diagnosis:

  1. Eat what you can. Build on what you can eat and focus on the positives.
  2. Keep meals and snacks simple. Look for recipes or meals that fit into your schedule and skill level.
  3. Fuel up when you have the best appetite. Seize that appetite boost by eating larger servings or different foods.
  4. Eat a variety of foods each week. Focus on the benefits of each food and how they give you strength.
  5. Be savvy about your food portions and abundance. Share what you don’t need with others or save leftovers to use in a later meal or snack.
  6. You can get all the nutrients you need through a good selection of foods and beverages.

Go further with food! Exceed your expectations on your cancer journey or that of a loved one. Nutrition is a source of strength and confidence for many. Be wise at your table so you can support the healing of your body.

Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDE

Author Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDE

Nutrition Educator Margaret Martin is a Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist in the State of Tennessee as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator. Margaret graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and received her Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science & Public Health from the University of Tennessee. With more than 10 years of experience in Clinical Nutrition, Margaret has also worked in the insurance industry with WellPoint Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield providing telephonic nutrition consultations, service assistance, and web-based nutrition education. In her free time Margaret volunteers with the American Lung Association’s annual “Lung Force Walk" in Middle Tennessee. She belongs to the Oncology Nutrition & Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Groups of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

More posts by Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDE

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