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Personalize Your Plate For Good Nutrition

March 31, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

PINE BLUFF – Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month. The observance is an opportunity for people to learn how to make food and physical activity choices that better their lives, according to Marilyn Burch, Extension associate-foods and nutrition for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

One of the main reasons for celebrating is that healthy eating can be enjoyable and informative and not demanding, she said. This year's theme, "Personalize Your Plate," promotes creating nutritious meals to meet individuals' cultural and personal food preferences.

"America is a cultural melting pot, so you can't expect everyone's food choices to look the same," Su-Nui Escobar, a registered dietitian nutritionist and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said in a press release. "Eating is meant to be a joyful experience. As supermarkets increasingly diversify their shelves to meet the needs of their customers, it's becoming easier to create nutritious meals that align with a variety of cultural preferences."

Burch said the National Food Month webpage available at www.eatright.org offers many resources for individuals who want to join the celebration and add some healthy habits to their lifestyle. The webpage is packed with helpful hints and options to cater to different personal and cultural preferences. For example, individuals can access printouts on ways to personalize their plates to include food from Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Latin American and Middle Eastern cuisines.

As individuals plan for a healthy spring, Burch recommends they follow some main guidelines. This year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages people to take advantage of the following tips:

• Eat a variety of nutritious foods each day. Include healthy foods from all food groups and drink plenty of water. It is also important to remember to take time to enjoy your food and avoid distractions while eating.

• Plan your meals each week. Choose healthy recipes to make during the week and use a grocery list to shop for healthy foods. Remember to eat a healthy breakfast and healthy snacks – this will be your fuel for the day at work or school.

Will Hehemann is a writer/editor for UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.

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