Stay on Track With A Plan for Healthy Eating

By Alejandra Gepp, Associate Director, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR

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Photo: Academy of Nutrition and Diatetics

This blog is part of NCLR’s Comprando rico y sano funded with the generous support of Walmart Foundation and on-going collaboration with General Mills.

It’s been more than two months since New Year’s Eve and we bet that more than a few people have already given up on their resolutions to eat more healthily in 2014.  But March is the perfect month to recommit to eating right and staying active. This National Nutrition Month, NCLR is challenging you to get back on track with your New Year’s resolution or start a new pact with yourself to eat more nutritious meals, so that you can live a happier and longer life.

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Unfortunately, many Hispanics in the U.S. struggle with their weight. While about one-third of U.S. adults are classified as obese, that number is even higher for Hispanic adults, reaching almost 40 percent.  The numbers for Hispanic children aren’t any better.  Nearly 40 percent of Hispanic children ages 2 to 19 are also overweight or obese, compared to just over 30 percent of all children in this age group. And high rates of obesity have resulted in disproportionately high rates of other serious health conditions for Hispanics, such as heart disease and diabetes.

It’s time to take your health back into your hands—with a little help, of course. Here are a few ways to help you eat a nutritious meal and be active every day:

  • See if a community organization in your neighborhood participates in NCLR’s  Comprando Rico y Sano program. We know that eating healthy can sometimes be difficult if you are on a limited budget. This program teaches shoppers how to purchase the healthiest, highest quality foods without breaking the bank. It also emphasizes strategies that can help consumers easily identify healthy foods. With the 101 labels trying to sell customers reduced-fat, sugar-free, gluten-free and so forth, sometimes it’s easier just to know what is actually good for you.
  • Familiarize yourself with the USDA’s MiPlato icon, a resource to help people understand not only what they should be eating, but also how much to eat. Our nation isn’t exactly known for its small portion sizes. This icon, as well as the informational resources with it, helps shoppers figure how to create a balanced meal that includes the appropriate amounts of each food group.
  • Staying healthy isn’t all about eating right; it also takes some activity.  Check out First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign which offers parents, children, schools, elected officials and even chefs some ideas for how they can get their communities living more healthy, active lifestyles. Plan a meet-up in your town or city or just take your children out for a day at the park. Just get up, get out, and get moving!
  • Learn about federal child nutrition programs—the School Breakfast Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and afternoon snacks and meals provided through the Child and Adult Care Food Program—that can help children stay healthy. Application guidelines and forms can be found at the USDA website.

The path to getting healthy isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.  All it takes to get started is a step in the right direction.  Recognize National Nutrition Month and make today the day you take that first step.

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