National Nutrition Month

    The National Nutrition Month is an educational campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to focus on the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits. Of course, healthy eating and exercising habits are important year-round, but it’s nice to have a friendly reminder every spring to get us back on track. This month couldn’t come at a better time, as it’s immediately following all of the food-oriented winter holidays, and just in time to prepare for summer!

    Each National Nutrition Month has a fun theme to emphasize a specific facet of nutritional health– this year is “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle!,”, focussing on adopting habits such as consuming fewer calories (if necessary), making appropriate food choices, and engaging in daily physical activity in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health. Making small life improvements that are kept over a lifetime are better than jumping into huge commitments that are difficult to maintain and dropped within a couple weeks.

    We could go into specific changes that help to improve health in general, but we covered some of the most important ones last month with American Heart Month’s recommendations. To avoid being redundant, let’s go over how to develop your objectives themselves. Fitness and health are very individualized, and it’s important to set your own personal goals. This week, we’re going to give an overview of SMART goals– SMART is a commonly used acronym for characteristics that help to create your own reasonable, achievable objectives.

Avoid being vague in deciding exactly what your goal is.
Ex: “I want to improve my health” vs. “I will improve my health by losing weight to obtain a healthy BMI”

Establish concrete criteria to determine when your goal has been met.
Ex: “I want to lose weight” vs. “I will lose 40lbs”

The goal must be challenging, but still realistic.
Ex: “I will drink only water, and eat only lettuce until I lose 100lbs” vs. “I will stop drinking 2 liters of soda every day, and switch to water or unsweetened iced tea”

Make sure that any small, short-term goals will work together to help achieve your long-term goal.
Ex: “I want to change my lifestyle” vs. “I will cut out sugary drinks and take a one-mile walk 3 times a week”

Create a time frame. Multiple short-term goals are easier to stick to than a single long-term goal, as smaller objectives are less daunting.
Ex: “I want to lose 80lbs” vs. “I will lose 25lbs by July’s family vacation (followed by 50lbs by Thanksgiving, and reach the final goal of 80 by next March”

Happy National Nutrition Month!