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Focus on food during National Nutrition Month

Published: 12:55PM March 13th, 2014

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Many people associate March with St. Patrick’s Day, but as a career diet technician, I think about National Nutrition Month.

The nutritional medicine flight at David Grant USAF Medical Center is the hub for highlighting the importance of a proper diet to aid in disease prevention.

Did you make a new year’s resolution to eat better in 2014? I’ll bet you did. We can help you focus on goals that will improve your eating patterns to make your resolution a success.

Even though I know how and what I’m supposed to eat, I fell well short of my own goals in 2013. Half of my plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. I know from 25 years in this business people don’t always choose these food groups because they are hard to prepare, they’re not used to eating them or they don’t like the taste.

I get it. But with little effort, anyone can learn how to prepare the most abundant, disease-battling foods in a way that is healthful and delicious.

Many of the health problems people face later in life can be attributed to the eating choices they made when they were younger. Some of you are thinking because you’re 20 years old and have a fast metabolism, you can eat anything you like. That mindset catches up to everyone as we age, including me.

By the time I was 30, I had to start watching closely what I consumed to prevent my waist from exceeding the Air Force’s goals and my own. I set specific goals each January, wrote them down and set objectives on how my behavior would ensure my success.

What eating behavior would you change during National Nutrition Month for your own success? Lower portion sizes? Reducing your number of fast-food meals? Trying to eat to support a more physically centric lifestyle?

Consider examining your family tree. I didn’t look closely at mine until I lost someone close. It normally takes a significant event for individuals to change their behavior, to make adjustments in their daily lives.

I could accept that some cancers, high blood pressure and high cholesterol run in my family or I could modify my daily nutritional intake to reduce the risk that these diseases would impact me in the future. I have worked hard to eat healthier so I can enjoy a longer life with my wife, two sons and future grandchildren.

Eating is so personal to each of us. Whether we use food to become the athlete inside us or to relieve stress or just as a way to bring family closer, make National Nutrition Month the catalyst for self-reflection and a healthier you.