Get the most out of your meals and reduce food waste

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“You are what you eat.”

We’ve all heard it, and many of us have jokingly used the common saying amongst one another. But there really is a kernel of truth there. Eating healthy can help us be healthy. There’s never a bad time to talk about healthy eating, but March is an especially good opportunity because it’s National Nutrition Month — a time to focus on making smart food choices, establishing healthy eating habits and ensuring that we are doing what we can to reduce food waste.

Did you know that it’s estimated that an average 300 pounds of food per person is thrown away each year? This year’s theme from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is “Go Further with Food” — a reminder for all of us to get the most out of what we eat while wasting the least. Here are a few simple ways you can help make your food go further.

Switch it up

They say variety is the spice of life. It’s also a key building block of healthy eating. Different foods provide different nutrients. Incorporating a variety of foods from all of the food groups into your daily diet helps ensure that your body is getting the most nutrients possible. Healthy salads and well-balanced meals are a great way to keep variety at the center.

Be thoughtful

Before you visit the grocery store, take inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer. Check expiration dates and “best used by” dates to see what you need to consume first before buying more, and research healthy recipes that use these items. Then, fill out your grocery list with what you really need for the week.

Prepare ahead

Healthy eating is a lot easier than you might think, especially with a little preparation. Plan a time to prepare your healthy meals for the week ahead. A few hours one afternoon can save you a lot of time throughout the week and keep you accountable to healthy eating habits.

Get creative

Make your food work for you. Be creative and look for ways to repurpose leftovers into brand new meals. Turn those last couple of chicken breasts and leftover roasted vegetables into a cozy stew, or mix your leftover pasta with some fresh veggies for a pasta salad for lunch the next day. You’ll be stretching your food dollar without stretching your waistline!

Ask for advice

Talk with a local registered dietitian nutritionist about making your food go further. He or she will have some great ideas for healthy eating habits and choices that both fit your individual lifestyle and help cut down on food waste.

If you’d like more information on how you can go further with food, visit www.eatright.org, or call 252-399-8900 to schedule an appointment with a dietitian.

Wilson Medical Center also offers grocery store tours to help you read nutrition labels, plan healthy meals on a budget, select healthy foods and shop smarter. Our Diabetes Support Group’s annual grocery store tour will be held on Monday, March 12 at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Food Lion located at 2101 Tarboro St. If you or someone you know has diabetes and is interested in signing up, call Martha Gurley at 252-399-8673.

Wilson Medical Center’s registered dietitian nutritionist will also provide a grocery store tour at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 13 at Food Lion, 2101 Tarboro St. This tour is open to anyone. Registration is required; please call Sue Barnes at 252-399-8478 to sign up.

Shannon Jackson is a registered dietitian nutritionist at Wilson Medical Center.