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March is National Nutrition Month: Tips to Improve Healthy Lifestyles


By Maddy Rohr, K-State Research and Extension News Service


MANHATTAN, Kan. – Eating healthy can be a challenge with busy lifestyles, but small changes can benefit your overall health. Kansas State University food scientist Karen Blakeslee encourages daily physical activity and replacing some foods with more nutritious options.

“The concept of nutrition includes choosing healthful foods, then after consumption, the body breaks the foods down into the nutrients that provide fuel for our bodies. So, for example, a fresh orange would be more nutritious than a can of orange soda,” Blakeslee said.

Blakeslee suggests keeping fruits and vegetables easily accessible, selecting whole grain products, drinking water or unsweetened beverages and replacing salt with spices and herbs.

Improving health at home, school or work can look like setting reminders to get up and move every hour, if possible, or using the stairs at work to add more movement, Blakeslee said.

“Every little bit counts. Try a new fruit or vegetable each week as a family,” Blakeslee said.

Blakeslee offers tips to improve nutritional decisions at home such as:

  • Plan meals and snacks.
  • Make a grocery list to match that plan and stick with the list.
  • Eat a variety of foods from all food groups.
  • If fresh produce is not available, canned, frozen or dried can be a great choice.
  • Avoid meal plans that specify restricting certain foods or food groups.
  • Learn to cook at home and make it a family activity. When kids actively help prepare meals, they are more likely to eat what they make.

“Remember that food and eating nutritious food should be a happy occasion to create memories and traditions,” Blakeslee said.

Blakeslee, who is also the coordinator of K-State’s Rapid Response Center for Food Science, publishes a monthly newsletter called You Asked It! that provides numerous tips on being safe and healthy. More information also is available from local extension offices in Kansas.