National Nutrition Month 2021: Personalize Your Plate
National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is also shared by countries worldwide such as Canada and the UK. During March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits.
This year's theme, Personalize Your Plate, promotes creating nutritious meals to meet individuals' cultural and personal food preferences. The UAE is home to so many nationalities, and not everyone will make the same food choices. As supermarkets increasingly diversify their shelves to meet their customers' needs, it is becoming easier to create nutritious meals within a variety of cultural preferences.
Licensed dietitians or registered dietitian nutritionists can help individuals fine-tune traditional recipes and provide alternative cooking methods and other healthful advice for incorporating family-favorite foods into everyday meals.
Some recommendations to reimagine traditional dishes are:
- Cook with dried spices and herbs instead of salt to add flavor to your dishes
- Try different grains such as wild rice, whole-grain farro, and whole-grain barley to reap the benefits of whole grains
- Go meatless: Serve up beans or lentils for heart-healthy plant-based protein
- Cook with vegetable oils, instead of solid fats such as butter, when cooking to limit saturated fat intake
- Eat 100% whole-wheat bread instead of white bread for more dietary fiber
- Bake, grill, roast, or steam your food instead of frying to decrease extra calories from fat
- Sprinkle chia or ground flax seeds on cereal, salad, or toast to increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids
- For flavor, add lime, grapefruit, or pineapple slices to a glass of water
- Cook grains in low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock for flavor
- To add variety, enjoy vegetables in different forms — raw, steamed, roasted, grilled, or sauteed
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. We are all unique with unique bodies, goals, backgrounds, and tastes. Contact your local licensed dietitian to help you develop an individualized eating and activity plan to meet your health goals.
Happy National Nutrition Month!
For more information on national nutrition month, visit the below professional organizations:
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Dietitians of Canada
- British Dietetic Association
Dima El-Halabi, MSc, RDN
College of Health Sciences
Abu Dhabi University