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Happy National Nutrition Month!
What? You didn't know?
In case it is new to you, National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to provide education and information on nutrition, making informed food choices, and developing healthy eating habits. I am ALL about people being informed. There is so much confusing and conflicting information out there and most people don't actually know what good nutrition is.
The theme this year is "Put Your Best Fork Forward." It is to serve as a reminder that with each bite, we wield the tool to make these healthier changes. I love this because it is advocating nutrition for improved health. We all hold the key to being the best, healthiest version of ourselves. We don't have to live in fear of our genes and family history, we can rewrite it for ourselves. 14 out of the 15 leading causes of death are linked to diet!
The "beef" I have with this is that they are still promoting outdated information. I downloaded their free powerpoint presentation (it is geared towards nutritionists for sharing the campaign with an audience) and it still recommends chicken and fish as good protein sources. Sure, they have protein, but I wouldn't call them GOOD. Both are linked to increases in risk of cancer. They are also promoting the MyPlate diagram which is disappointing as it lumps a nutrient (protein) all into one category. To me, this is misleading because it doesn't show what types of food fall into those categories anymore and many people simply associate it with it meat and overlook the many plant-based sources of protein.
During the protein portion of the presentation they state "Vegetarian and vegan diets can provide adequate amounts of protein if they are well planned and include a variety of foods." Although true, this can also be misleading. I think the term "well planned" has a negative connotation and turns people away from the idea of a vegan diet. The fact is that not much planning is required, if at all. As long as you're eating a variety of mostly whole plant foods, you should be fine. And by fine, I mean THRIVING. Plants = life
They go on to state that "Many Americans get enough protein on a regular basis." The fact is MOST Americans get way more protein than they actually need. This as we know can be equally as harmful as not having enough (hello cancer, increased weight, osteoporosis, kidney disease etc). Protein deficiency is EXTREMELY rare. If you are eating enough calories, you are consuming enough protein. I will give them credit that they talked about varying your protein routine by substituting plant-based proteins in recipes and recommended trying meatless dishes.
And lastly, they are still promoting dairy and recommend milk, yogurt, and cheese as good sources of calcium. This is scary that they are completely ignoring the science that dairy is linked to breast, prostate cancer, and osteoporosis (not to mention it is an extremely cruel industry). They also recommended low-fat and fat-free dairy which is linked to an increase in osteoporosis. This is because dairy is acidic so the body has to leach calcium from the bones to balance out the acidity. However, with full fat dairy, the fat acts as a buffer thereby reducing the amount of calcium that leaches from the bones. Either way, this makes it hard for the body to absorb the calcium in dairy. Overall, dairy is completely unnecessary and is a poor source of calcium. Better sources are dark leafy greens, kale, watercress, broccoli, kidney beans, almonds, chickpeas, oranges, and fortified plant milks.
I will say their sections on fruits and vegetables and whole grains were excellent. They discussed experimenting with different fruits and vegetables, eating what's in season if possible, and how to vary your whole grains.
But back to the whole premise of this campaign, it really is for a worthy cause and I do whole heartedly agree that people should be making more conscious decisions towards eating better and taking health back into their own hands. You being here and reading this means that you know how important it is and that you are wanting and/or are making those changes in your life. Good for you!
Every little step counts. Every little change makes a difference. I know how hard it can be to even take the first step towards change so if you need some ideas on how you can start improving your diet, I have a previous post on how to slowly remove meat from it here.
I also have an easy to follow FREE meal plan for anyone who wants some inspiration on how easy a plant-based diet can be. Just sign up for my mailing list below and it will be sent to your inbox!