Nutrition month blends tradition, culture with healthful eating
Nutritionists are encouraging people to “eat right, your way, every day” as a part of March’s National Nutrition Month.
LSU AgCenter family and consumer science agent Quincy Cheek said eating right doesn’t mean giving up favorite foods.
“You just need to eat more healthfully and be mindful of what you eat,” Cheek said.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics chose the theme, “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day,” to recognize that personal preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions and health concerns all affect individual food choices.
“I take a look at the recipes or the general foods I provide for my family and say, ‘how can we make this a little bit healthier?’” she said.
She used gumbo has an example, replacing a traditional roux that contains a lot of fat and calories with a dry roux, adding in turkey sausage and skinless chicken breast.
Cheek also suggested replacing white rice with brown rice and using spaghetti squash in place of pasta. She explained that this could be done gradually, using half of the familiar ingredient with the new one to get your family adjusted to a different taste and texture.
Food is an important part of the culture in Louisiana, and gardeners here can grow many different types of vegetables. She said to look at the way the vegetables are prepared.
“I always use snap beans as an example,” Cheek said. “Fresh snap beans to me are one of the greatest things about summertime, but so often we drown them in bacon fat and sausage.”
March also falls during Lent, a time in Louisiana when people consume more seafood.
“This is great because the dietary guideline for 2010, for the first time, pointed out that we need to increase our consumption of seafood in the diet,” Cheek said.
Parents can help children develop healthy habits by offering them healthful foods from the beginning.
“With children, it’s especially important. If you start them when they are young, they never know the difference,” she said.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of National Nutrition Month.