March is National Nutrition Month

This is the time of year where we can stop and reflect on the nutritional quality of the food choices we make on a daily basis and how they affect our health and well-being.

Did you know we make over 200 food choices per day?

Our decisions about food are influenced by several factors. Consumer research confirms that taste tops nutrition as the main reason why one food is purchased over another.  Although social, emotional and health factors also play a role, the foods people enjoy are likely the ones they eat most often or know the best.

It can be very frustrating to hear that food labeled “healthy” is commonly mistaken as “flavorless” or not as tasty. Healthy dishes — foods prepared with healthful cooking methods and ingredients — can be full of robust flavors that entice anyone’s taste buds.

This year’s key messages for National Nutrition Month will focus on how to combine taste and nutrition to create healthy meals that follow the Dietary Guidelines to better health without missing the flavor. This year’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”.

Did you know that the average adult has between 2,000 and 10,000 taste buds? Given the right amount of time, exposing taste buds to a new flavor, taste or texture, will allow taste buds to acclimate and become familiar with new foods and flavors.

When preparing healthier dishes and meals, be sure to use fresh ingredients like vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and fruit. Attracting all five senses (sight, touch, taste, sound and smell) will also influence your food choices. To do so, make sure the foods you prepare for meals and snacks have the following:

  • Eye appeal: Combine deep-colored vegetables and fruits;
  • Texture: Add foods that provide textures, including  whole grains or raw vegetables;
  • Flavor: Use fresh herbs or spices to  improve taste;
  • Sound: Enjoy the sound of the cooking process;
  • Smell: Savor the aromas as your ingredients blend together.  Use aromatic foods like onions, garlic, lemon and herbs.

During the month of March, challenge yourself to prepare more dishes and snacks at home. Try new recipes and flavors. Many individuals are surprised to discover the taste of new foods while reaping nutritional benefits.

We would love to hear from you:  What is your favorite healthier dish to make for yourself or your family?

natalie-castro-204x300About Natalie Castro, M.S., R.D., LDN

Natalie Castro  is the Chief Wellness Dietitian for corporate wellness at Baptist Health South Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Florida International University.  She completed her master’s degree in nutrition and exercise science at the State University of New York, University at Buffalo. Ms. Castro is certified in adult weight management and works passionately to improve the health of both adults and children. Her clinical experience includes working with patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders and critically ill patients in intensive care.  In addition, she has conducted research on eating behaviors and pediatric obesity.  Her research has been published in several peer-reviewed medical journals.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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