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Eat well for nurtrition month
Health advice
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March is National Nutrition Month and this year's theme is Nutrition: It's a Matter of Fact. The American Dietetic Association selected this theme to remind consumers to focus on the total balance of foods consumed, rather than one food or meal during a day.
"No single food or meal makes or breaks a healthful diet," says registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association spokesperson Ruth Frechman.  "Your overall pattern of eating is the most important focus."
According to Frechman, it doesn't matter if you eat after 8 p.m. The number of calories you ate that entire day, not the time you ate them is what's important.  She stresses, however, that everyone should pay attention to the portions of servings and when a sweet, high calorie treat is included, enjoy it in moderation.  Other things you can do are exercising longer the next day or save calories by not eating something else, like skipping your morning latte.
People often have a hard time figuring out the healthiest eating plan because there are so many nutrition myths and "diets."
It's therefore, important to focus on information that is based on scientific research. A good rule of thumb is to follow the advice of organizations such as the ADA rather than someone promoting a new book or food line. Marketing does not necessarily serve as promotion for a scam but until you're sure of its credibility, use sense and stick with facts supplied by credible organizations.
While we are told that everyone should eat two-four servings of fruit and three-five servings of vegetables every day, the number actually depends on the amount of total calories. For example, five servings of fruit and vegetables a day is the minimal recommended number.  It is really the minimum requirement for children ages 2 to 6, women, and some older adults (those who eat about 1,600 calories per day).  Older children, teen girls, active women, and most men who eat about 2,200 calories per day should have seven servings.  Teen boys and active men who eat about 2,800 calories per day should have nine servings of fruit or vegetables.  
Fruits and vegetables are essential for good health and should be included in a daily diet. All forms of fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, dried, or canned) contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables as different fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients.
In addition to eating more fruits and vegetables, remember that you should eat more whole grains and choose more nonfat or low-fat milk or milk products-preferably three servings of each per day. A whole grain is the entire edible part of any grain such as wheat, oats, barley, rice and corn. Whole grains contain fiber and other beneficial nutrients.
Dairy foods are an excellent source of calcium, protein and other vitamins and minerals important for children's growth and development. Calcium is important at all ages but, especially, for growing bones! Adults and kids need three servings of calcium-rich foods every day.

Ratcliffe works with the Coastal Health District.

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