September is National "5 A Day" Month
Margo Kerrigan, M.P.H., Area Director
Indian Health Service California Area Office
September 2006 - September brings fall, the start of a new school year and the National "5 A Day" month, which celebrates the benefits of fruits and vegetable consumption. Fresh fruits and vegetables have essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and thousands of health promoting phytochemicals. Eating at least five servings a day is beneficial to our health. Native people have always recognized their importance and science continues to link their intake to the prevention of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and some cancers. The Native American food model promotes nature's gifts, fresh fruits and vegetables. The "5 A Day" message began in the California Department of Health Service in 1988 and is now the nation's largest public-private nutrition education initiative. The importance of daily consumption of fruits and vegetables is demonstrated by other recent federal recommendations and policies. Last year, the updated dietary guidelines recognized the increased importance of fruits and vegetables. The Women Infant and Children (WIC) program, which helps feed more than half of the babies in the country, added fruits, vegetables and whole grains to its list. This fall, all school districts are required to have a Wellness Policy that creates goals addressing healthy eating and physical activity for all ages.
Although the benefits of "5 A Day" are clear, most people find meeting these goals difficult. Here are a few tips that may help you meet the goal and reap the benefits.
- Short on time tips -
Top cereal with 1/2 cup fresh sliced fruit
Sprinkle 1/4 cup of dried fruit on salads
Drink 6 ounce of 100% fruit juice or low-sodium vegetable juice
Snack on a portable unsweetened pack or 1/2 cup (about 6) baby carrots
Request extra veggies on deli sandwiches
- Cost savings tips -
Buy in season fruits
Try frozen options
Consider freezing before they spoil and use in soups or smoothies
Add beans as a vegetable choice, they are an inexpensive meat alternative
- Healthy habit tips -
Be a role model for family and friends by having fruit and vegetables
Keep cut and wash items available for fast use
- On the go tips -
Request extra veggies on deli items
Select fresh fruit instead of chips
Start with a side salad and split the entire with friend of family member
Eat a piece of fruit at the end of the work day to curb hunger before dinner.