March 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of National Nutrition Month, a nutrition education and information campaign led annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). National Nutrition Month focuses on the “importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.”
National Nutrition Month dates back to 1973 when a presidential proclamation, television ads and bumper stickers featured “Invest in Yourself – Buy Nutrition” as the theme for a National Nutrition Week campaign. Fast forward through the next four decades and you’ll see themes that have greatly evolved:
- 1976 – “Improving Nutrition for the Nation
- 1982 – “Invest Now…Nutrition is Up”
- 1989 – “A Lifetime Decision – Choose Good Nutrition”
- 1990 – “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”
- 2005 – “Get a Taste for Nutrition”
Have we come a long way! Never before have we had such a proliferation of food choices and options to meet food and nutrition needs. This year’s theme, “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day,” perfectly reflects today’s food environment and a call to action to commit to making one better choice, no matter how big or small, each and every day.
For those of us who have made nutrition and dietetics a key focus of our careers, March provides an opportunity not only to celebrate food and nutrition for the public but also to celebrate our profession. Wednesday, March 13 marked the 6th Annual Registered Dietitian (RD) Day, a day that celebrates the work we do as food and nutrition experts who can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. Today, dietitians find themselves in increasingly diverse roles. With food and beverage companies facing an increasing need to be transparent and detailed in product manufacturing, labeling and claims communication, more are looking toward dietitians to provide expertise and credibility in guiding these increasingly important components of business.
It’s great to see food brands and dietitians working together, especially in this great time in the food and nutrition history of our nation. It is a time of customization in our food choices, of shifting and interesting priorities when purchasing, in ethnic influences in our food options, in creating a healthy eating environment that is truly tailored for each individual, and hopefully committing to a better choice each and every day can make a big impact in the long run.
“Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” is a great theme not only for National Nutrition Month, but for everyone to remember and embrace in their own lives. It’s advice I often share with others. True, it may be hard in our high-stress, constantly plugged-in, busy lifestyles to find (or more likely follow) the “right” path. Many have an all-or-nothing point of view of healthy eating, but in reality there has to be some give and take and realization that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating. Food and beverage companies are working to meet that important need to bridge the gap between good choices and convenience, and consumer-driven need along with pressure from various health organizations is driving innovation, transparency and authentic and credible communication messages. As consumers look for increased credible and authentic communications with brands, and brands look to drive loyalty and confidence with consumers, dietitians can help to build that relationship.
Whether you are eating gluten free, buying local produce, choosing fair trade coffee, indulging in a rich, premium piece of chocolate or celebrating with a delicious ice cream treat, celebrate the many and varied choices we have today. But also try to remember to commit to making at least one healthier choice each and every day.