March is National Nutrition Month
Margo Kerrigan, M.P.H, Area Director
Indian Health Service California Area Office
March is National Nutrition Month® and Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day is the theme this year. This annual campaign is designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. It encourages healthy eating styles that are based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines(1) recommendations and MyPlate(2) messages. Personalized healthy eating is impacted by food preferences, lifestyles, cultural and ethnic traditions, and health concerns. Registered dietitians play a critical role in assisting people Eat Right, Their Way, Every Day.
This year is the 40th anniversary of National Nutrition Month® with March 13th marking the sixth Registered Dietitian Day. The day recognizes Registered Dietitians (RD) for their commitment to assisting people in making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. They are providers who are the most credible source of timely, scientifically based food and nutrition information. To legally use the RD credential, requirements are specific, including at least a bachelor's degree, completion of at least 1200 hours of supervised practical hours covering clinical nutrition, community nutrition, food service and administration and passing the national registration examination. The RD as a member of the clinical care team facilitates and coaches. They help people understand how nutrition impacts clinical conditions and assist in weeding through the ever increasing nutrition misinformation so it is easier to make informed food choices and developing sound eating habits. An RD working in Indian health understands the community, the culture and foodways. Check with your tribal or urban healthcare program to find out if a Registered Dietitian is available, and then make an appointment to stay on path to better health or get started.
Here are just a few of the benefits of working with a registered dietitian:
They are qualified to provide the highest level of nutrition counseling: Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist but, only a RD has the education and training legally required.
They are key member of a person’s medical support team, working closely with the medical providers, specialist and nurses.
Personally tailored advice: After learning about your health history, favorite foods, eating and exercise habits, an RD will help you understand your personalized healthy eating needs.
Help managing chronic diseases: An RD can review your lab results with you, help you understand your condition and provide education about the nutrients that affect it. They can then help you create an eating plan that will help manage your condition.
Guidance navigating food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances: When you suffer from these conditions, it's easy to be overwhelmed. An RD can teach you how to read food labels so you’ll know which ingredients to avoid and still find substitutions to keep your diet balanced.
A weight-loss program that really works: Fad diets come and go but they rarely work for very long. An RD will partner with you to develop a safe, effective weight-loss plan that you can stick with for the long haul and one that helps you get what you are truly wanting for yourself.