Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month. This is a time to learn more about making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits. This year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.”

“Personalize Your Plate” means that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. All of us are unique with different backgrounds, cultural eating practices, different bodies, and different lifestyles. During the current pandemic, many have explored that uniqueness by trying new recipes and cooking techniques, or even returning to traditional foods that nurture us.

Below are five tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help you to personalize your plate.

  1. Celebrate Your Culture: Our personal connections to the foods we were brought up with are powerful and lasting. Honoring those connections not only feeds the body, but also feeds the spirit.
  2. Fix Healthy Snacks: Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals, especially when they include a combination of foods. Follow the CACFP guidelines and try to include 2 food groups when you snack. Some great ideas are edamame sprinkled with low-sodium soy sauce and a cheese stick; apple slices with peanut butter; half a bagel with cream cheese and sliced cucumbers; or dried fruit and nut mixtures.
  3. Make Half Your Plate Vegetables and Fruits: Fruits and veggies add color, flavor, and texture plus vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber to your plate. A great goal is 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit each day. All types count: fresh, frozen, and canned.
  4. Slow Down at Mealtime: Instead of eating n the run, try sitting down to eat an focusing on the food you’re about to enjoy. Dedicating time to savoring the taste and textures of foods can help you notice when you feel full.
  5. Reduce Added Sugars: Setting realistic goals such as cutting soda intake in half or waiting an hour after dinner to see if you really want dessert can help to lower the amount of added sugar you consume.