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A young African American girl giving her dad a tomato to taste.

ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Well-balanced nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Each year in March the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics highlights the importance of nutrition through its National Nutrition Month® campaign.

“National Nutrition Month® is an educational campaign that highlights practical ways people can live healthier,” said Kristen Campbell, the Alabama Extension program coordinator for the Virginia Caples Lifelong Learning Institute. “The theme this year is Eat Right, Bite-by-Bite. While eating healthy can seem overwhelming, weekly key messages are suggested to encourage individuals to change their lifestyle habits one step at a time.”

Weekly Key Messages

These key messages emphasize the importance of making wise food decisions and adopting a healthier lifestyle.

  • Week One: Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day. Eat healthy food from all food groups.
  • Week Two: Plan your meals each week. Use a grocery list to shop for healthy foods.
  • Week Three: Learn skills to create tasty meals. Prepare tasty meals and share with family and friends when possible.
  • Week Four: Consult a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). A RDN can provide personalized nutrition advice to help you meet your goals.

Following these messages can help individuals to eat a nutritional diet.

Well-Balanced Nutrition

Tamara Warren, an Alabama Extension urban human nutrition, diet and health specialist, said the term “proper nutrition” is often used. However, it is not the best term to describe a healthy eating pattern.

“Well-balanced nutrition is more accurate to describe healthy eating,” Warren said. “This means people should have a balanced diet by eating a variety of foods, and eating some foods in moderation.”

To have a well-balanced diet, people should also balance the calories they consume with daily physical activity. Also, eat foods from all food groups and control portion sizes and the number of calories eaten daily to improve overall health.

Extension Programs Supporting Nutrition

There are several Extension programs throughout the year that promote healthy lifestyles as suggested by the National Nutrition Month® campaign.

  • CHAMPION (Community Health Aerobic Motivational Program Initiating Optimal Nutrition) provides education to improve eating habits, increase physical activities and reduce risks that lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
  • TEEN (Technology Enhancing Exercise and Nutrition)  uses technology such as apps, exergames and health websites to engage teens in nutrition, nutrients, exercise and food demonstrations to reduce risk factors of childhood obesity.
  • Urban SNAP-Ed makes nutrition easy, tasty and affordable. It helps families and individuals to
    • select nutritious food
    • be physically active
    • maximize food budgets with smart shopping tips
    • utilize healthy cooking techniques
    • keep food safe during purchase, preparation and storage
  • Urban EFNEP is a program for Hispanic mothers of children under the age of five and youth ages six through 14. Urban EFNEP focuses on teaching families to consume healthy foods on a limited budget. It also encourages daily physical activity for the whole family.
  • Walking Like a CHAMPION is an ongoing statewide campaign that encourages Alabamians to be physically active by walking daily to burn calories consumed. More information about this campaign is on the Urban Extension page of the Alabama Extension website.

More Information

For more information about Alabama Extension health and wellness programs, visit www.aces.edu or contact  Warren at (256) 372-4981 or Andrea Morris, an Alabama Extension urban health and nutrition specialist, at (256) 372-8082.

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