• Barb Mayfield

#NNM2021 promotes a personalized plate

National Nutrition Month 2021 graphic

During my many years of counseling patients from all walks of life, a common perception they arrived with was the fear that meeting with a dietitian meant giving up eating their favorite foods and having to follow some “standardized” diet – whatever that meant. That impression still persists today in spite of efforts to demonstrate the opposite is true. Working with a credentialed registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) means working with someone who will account for your food preferences, cultural heritage, food availability, cooking skills, family situation, budget, and so much more. Tailored advice is what we give.

“Personalize Your Plate” is this year’s slogan for National Nutrition Month (NNM). “People are not all alike and one size does not fit all when it comes to planning and achieving a healthful diet. What may be the best approach for one person may not be the answer for another.” (1) This theme ties in well with the newly released Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. The second guideline encourages customizing and enjoying nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations. (2)

4 main guidelines in Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 focus on four overriding guidelines. (2)

The common complaint of dietary advice being a “cookie-cutter” approach and looking the same for everyone must be put to rest. The message of NNM reminds us that there are unlimited ways to meet our nutrient needs and dietary goals. It’s time to replace the image of a chicken breast, white rice, and steamed broccoli as the featured menu with more variety. Picture instead an image of falafel, quinoa and black bean salad, and roasted carrots. Recipe websites and the USDA MyPlate.gov website offer increasingly diverse options for personalizing your plate. (3)

It cannot be emphasized enough that a benefit of working with an RDN to make dietary changes is learning how to make informed decisions that take into account “personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.” An RDN will assess these factors and tailor advice accordingly. Although many patients ask for a “meal plan” it is our goal to help the people we work with acquire the knowledge and skills to plan their own meals – meals that nourish bodies and appetites.

NNM is an annual campaign of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, held in March, to promote good nutrition and the work of registered dietitian nutritionists. For more than 40 years a theme is created and showcased each year. Themes have ranged from “A Lifetime Decision – Choose Good Nutrition,” to “All Foods Can Fit,” to “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,” and “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” For a listing of themes and graphics from all 40+ years of NNM, visit: https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/history-timeline

“Eat Right, America!” was a recurring theme for many years. For a song based on this theme, check out my resources page for teaching children: https://www.nutritioncommunicator.com/kids-club-lessons-and-songs

For ideas for promoting NNM: https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/toolkit

America is a cultural melting pot, so you can't expect everyone's food choices to look the same. ~Su-Nui Escobar, RDN, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson

1. https://www.eatrightpro.org/media/press-releases/national-nutrition-month/nnm-2021-personalize-your-plate

2. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/

3. https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/food-group-gallery

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