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March is National Nutrition Month, an annual observation that encourages people to make informed food choices and develop healthy eating and physical habits that can be followed throughout their lives. 

This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month is “Fuel for the Future”, which embodies why good nutrition is essential for every stage of life and lowers the risk of serious health complications like heart disease, obesity, and type-two diabetes. 

“We have probably all heard the saying, ‘you are what you eat’. It is very true because our overall health may be largely determined by the nutrients we consume,” explained County Public Health Services Registered Dietitian, Barbara L. Hughes, MS, RD, CalFresh Healthy Living Program Nutrition Policy Advisor. “National Nutrition Month is a great opportunity to think about the foods and beverages you consume and learn about the easy changes we can all make to ensure we are choosing foods that contribute to our overall well-being.” 

According to registered dietitian nutritionist and oncology nutrition specialist Amy Bragagnini, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provide you with nutrients and dietary fiber that can help lower your risk of developing cancer in the long term. 

“Eating a variety of foods from all food groups keeps your meals interesting and healthful. Fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruits and vegetables all make your meal preparations easy,” Bragagnini said in a news release. 

Hughes provided the following nutritional tips to help create a healthy, balanced diet: 

  • Add color to your plate: Colorful fruits and vegetables have vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. The goal is to make half your plate a colorful mix of produce. 
  • Plan your meals: Having a plan for the week can help you make healthier choices and ensure you are including a variety of different foods in your diet while repurposing leftover ingredients.  
  • Pack your snacks: Healthy snacks between meals can help keep your energy levels up while adding extra nutrients to your overall diet.  
  • Get cooking: Making your food at home is often a healthier option than eating out because you can control the ingredients you put into your meals. Plus, cooking at home can be rewarding and cost-effective.
  • Watch for added sugar: Some foods and drinks can contain added sugar that provides no nutritional benefit. Try choosing drinks and foods that do not add unnecessary sugars. 
  • Change things up: Experiment with trying new foods like ancient grains, meatless options, or new-to-you vegetables. Try a variety of foods from all food groups.  

According to the San Diego Foodbank, of San Diego County’s 3.3. million residents, over 1 million people face nutrition insecurity and of that number, 284,500 are children. This is caused by a number of factors, including the region’s high cost of living. 

If food affordability is an issue, food assistance may be available through CalFresh, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Visit San Diego County’s CalFresh website to learn more or call the Access line at 1-866-262-9881. You can also visit a local Family Resource Center to get assistance.  

More nutrition tips, and healthy recipes, along with food and nutrition resources can be found on the EatFresh website

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