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A Good Month for Nutrition

March 1, 2012

Today kicks off National Nutrition Month® – a month-long exploration, sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, of how good nutrition can improve health.

That’s a postive thing, right? Absolutely. Anything that gets people to think more about what they’re putting in their mouths three or more times a day is fine by me.

But as a holistic nutrition counselor and not an RD, I have differences with the Academy. For example, I wish they’d discuss the benefits of organic produce, meats and dairy, or talk about sodium-potassium imbalance. And for my taste, they don’t try to move people far enough away from processed foods – a strategy that is one big key to better health.

I also tend to think that if Michelle Obama hadn’t come along, the school lunch program – with menus created by dietitians – would continue instilling poor eating habits in young people. Sadly, in my district, the public school lunches are still abominations, with offerings such as “Big Daddy’s Pizza Wedge,” “Mini Twin Cheeseburger,” “Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Whole Grain Roll” and “Whole Grain Corn Dog on a Stick” – I am not making this up. In someone’s mind, the “whole grain” part renders these hideous excuses for meals somehow nutritious.

I wish someone should sponsor Holistic Nutrition Month. Holistic nutrition, which I and many others practice, looks at the whole person – his or her eating and lifestyle habits, history, stress level, support network – to help them achieve their health goals. We discuss the quality of food, including which foods are important to eat organic, and how to eat mindfully for better digestion and overall health. We help people create nutrient-dense diets and steer clear of dieting. And in terms of illness, holistic nutrition considers the root causes of a symptom, determines ways to address those causes and then tries to offer a way to prevent the symptom in the future.

Take the opportunity this month to think and talk about nutrition with your friends and family. I list some nutrition-focused blogs in my blogroll that I particularly like and that could spark discussion. Better yet, if you’ve been meaning to take some steps toward improving your diet and your health, now’s a perfect time to start by engaging a counselor to help you set your goals… and meet them. The National Association of Nutrition Professionals, to which I belong, is a great place to start if a holistic approach appeals to you.

Most important, though: Don’t stop thinking about nutrition when March slips into April.


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