March is National Nutrition Month, an education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition of Dietetics.  The theme for this year’s campaign is “Get Your Plate in Shape”.   Most people know the importance of getting your body in shape, but what does being in shape mean for your plate?  Being mindful of what goes into our plate or bowl is important because it is what you will put into your body.  Making healthy and nutritious meal choices is the foundation of a healthy body and a happier life.

Here are few tips to help you “Get Your Plate in Shape”:

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange vegetables plus beans and peas. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables all count. Choose “reduced sodium” or “no-salt-added” canned vegetables.  Add fruit to meals and snacks. Buy fruits that are dried, frozen or canned in water or 100% juice, as well as fresh fruits.

Make at least half your grains whole
Choose 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice.

Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk

Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories.  If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.

Vary your protein choices
Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs.  Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.  Keep meat and poultry portions small and lean.

Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars
Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Select fruit for dessert and at sugary desserts less often. Choose 100% fruit juice instead of fruit-flavored drinks.

Look out for salt (sodium) in foods you buy. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers. Add spices or herbs to season food without adding salt.

Make major sources of saturated fats such as desserts, pizza, cheese, sausages and hot dogs occasional choices, not every day foods.  Select lean cuts of meat or poultry and fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.  Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.

Enjoy your food but eat less
Get your personal daily calorie limit at Keep that number in mind when deciding what to eat.  Avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass.  Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food.  When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options. Choose dishes that include vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly. Limit to 1 drink a day for women or to 2 drinks a day for men.