Beyond the Plate: National Nutrition Month 2024

Beyond the Plate: National Nutrition Month 2024

Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics launches its celebrated National Nutrition Month® campaign, inviting everyone to delve deeper into the world of food choices and adopt healthier eating and exercise habits. Originally established as National Nutrition Week in 1973, this initiative expanded to a month-long event in 1980, reflecting the growing interest in nutrition. This year, the theme is “Beyond the Table,” encouraging individuals to consider the entire journey of food from production to consumption.

The focus of National Nutrition Month® extends beyond merely sitting down to eat. It encompasses the entire spectrum of food-related activities, including production, distribution, shopping, and storage. Theresa Gentile, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy in Brooklyn, NY, emphasizes the importance of thinking holistically about nutrition. “Beyond the table,” she says, “takes into account the farm-to-fork aspect of nutrition, from food production and distribution to grocery stores and farmers markets to home food safety and food storage.”

As part of this month-long celebration, Gentile offers practical tips for maintaining a nutritious diet:

  1. Stay nourished on any budget: Reduce restaurant meals and plan your menu for the week to save money. Explore community resources like SNAP, WIC, and local food banks for additional support.
  2. Consult a registered dietitian nutritionist: RDNs are uniquely qualified to create personalized nutrition plans to help individuals meet their health goals and manage chronic diseases.
  3. Diversify your diet: Incorporate a variety of foods from all food groups into your meals, including fresh, frozen, canned, or dried options. Experiment with new ingredients and global cuisines to expand your palate.
  4. Eat with the environment in mind: Minimize food waste by repurposing leftovers and opting for more plant-based meals. Support local farmers and choose seasonal produce whenever possible.

Melissa Ann Prest, an Academy Spokesperson in Chicago, IL, praises this year’s theme for its focus on promoting sustainability and educating the public about the food system. “Beyond the Table showcases the importance of an overall healthful lifestyle,” she notes. “It encourages us to learn more about how food is grown, produced, and consumed, as well as how we can reduce food waste.”

In addition to promoting healthy eating habits, National Nutrition Month® celebrates the contributions of registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) and nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered (NDTRs). RDN Day, observed on the second Wednesday of March, honors the expertise of RDNs in improving health outcomes and providing personalized nutrition advice. NDTR Day, recognized on the second Thursday of March, acknowledges the invaluable contributions of NDTRs to healthcare and foodservice management teams.

This March, let’s look beyond the plate and embrace a holistic approach to nutrition that nourishes both our bodies and the planet. To find a registered dietitian near you, visit the Academy’s Find a Nutrition Expert directory.

For more information on National Nutrition Month and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, visit www.eatright.org.



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