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Five Ways to Celebrate National Nutrition Month


By Desiray Yeaw MS, RD, LDN, Registered Dietitian, Westminster Village


Are you ready to revive and reinvigorate after the cold winter months?  Spring is a season of new beginnings, and now is the perfect time to refresh yourself by focusing in on healthy eating habits throughout the month of March during the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Nutrition Month! As the Spring sun begins to shine and the natural world begins to defrost, consider tuning in to your five senses to try these healthy eating tips that are sure to revitalize your plate and palate.


  1. Sight – Fruits and vegetables get their rich colors from “phytonutrients,” compounds that can help you live a healthier life through the prevention of heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. In general, each different color category of produce provides different health benefits. Be intentional about including a variety of colors on your plate (red, yellow/oranges, greens, black/purples, and white/browns). Use your eyes to do a plate check. Are things looking a little beige? That’s okay! Start small by adding a ½ cup serving of fruits or veggies to each meal. Aim to eat the rainbow as you build your way to 5 cups of fruits and veggies per day.


  1. Taste – The human sensory system has learned to identify about 100,000 different flavors and 5 main taste categories: sweet, bitter, savory, sour, and salty. All of these are important to our health in some way. For example, salt is essential for proper nerve function, muscle function, and fluid/mineral balance. However, consuming too much salt can be detrimental by placing stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing blood pressure, and increasing risk of heart disease, heart attack, kidney disease, and stroke. Try letting your amazing sense of taste shine by tasting your food before adding salt at the table or by experimenting with non-salt seasonings like herbs, spices, citrus, and vinegars.


  1. Touch – Studies have shown that distracted eating and eating too quickly can contribute to overweight and obesity which can lead to chronic health problems. Using your sense of touch can help you slow down and recognize the sensations of fullness and satisfaction. Before you eat, use your hands to feel the weight of your dish. Pause to consider the temperature of your meal or beverage. How does it feel on your hands? Is it too hot, too cold, or just right? Taking time to notice these things can give your brain time to interpret fullness cues and hormones that help us feel comfortably full rather than overstuffed.


  1. Smell – Smell has a stronger link to memory and emotion than any of the other five senses. Thinking about the smell of your favorite freshly baked cookies or the scent of a charcoal grill might transport you to a different time and place. You can also use smell to create a positive food mindset. The next time you notice the scent of something that smells appealing, use it as a trigger to remember that all foods can fit into a healthy diet. The key is moderation. Try allowing the aroma of a food to fill your space, calm your brain, and cue you to not label foods as good or bad. Instead, recognize that even the most decadent foods can fit into a healthy eating pattern in smaller portions or when enjoyed less frequently.


  1. Sound – Food and cooking is filled with a symphony of sounds. Your ears can be an asset to exploring healthier cooking methods this Spring. Healthier cooking methods include baking, grilling, sautéing, steaming, poaching, boiling, and stir frying, to name a few. Engage your sense of hearing to enjoy the process of cooking a healthy recipe. Try noticing the sizzle of a freshly roasted pan of veggies coming out of the oven or the difference in sound when the hiss of simmering water turns into a bubbling rolling boil as you prepare 100% whole grain pasta.


Use these tips to ignite your senses and enjoy healthy eating all month long this year during National Nutrition Month!


Westminster Village is a continuing care retirement community, located at 2025 East Lincoln Street in Bloomington. Celebrating life, their mission is to provide excellence in senior living through a continuum of care and services. For more information, contact them at 309-663-6474 or visit