March is National Nutrition Month

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By Greg Summers

Sifting through complex food and nutrition information can be a daunting task for consumers, with new information bombarding the airways and Internet almost daily.

From food recalls and personal endorsements to secret ingredients, fad diets and conflicting information of dietary supplements, it can be complicated just to separate fact from fiction.

During March – National Nutrition Month – the American Dietetic Association is urging consumers to look beyond the myths of nutrition to focus on the facts.

This year's theme is "Nutrition: It's a Matter of Fact."

When it comes to trying to make sense of complicated nutrition research, the best option is consulting a doctor, said Lori Moseley, program manager of the University of South Carolina at Lancaster's Diabetes Education Clinic.

"It's easy to understand how so many people get confused," she said.

"They watch CNN and it's telling them one thing and a health care professional is telling them something else.

"It really is hard to figure out what is what in some cases. That's why we tell patients here to notify their health care providers before making any changes," Moseley said.

Moseley said that not only applies to changing your diet, but also to using nutritional supplements.

"The most simple things can have side effects with certain prescription medicines," she said. "They need to find out first."

Registered dietitian and ADA spokeswoman Kerry Neville said in a release that it's important to focus on information gleaned from scientific research.

"People often hear about new research, but they aren't able to get the whole story," said Neville, who specializes in children's nutrition, diet books and trends, disease prevention, food preparation and meal planning.

"Even if a weight-loss strategy has been proven effective in a research study, it's still important that you investigate it before adopting in into your diet," Neville said.

Neville also recommends consulting a registered dietitian who can sift through complex food and nutrition advice and tailor it to fit an individual consumer's needs.

"A registered dietitian can determine whether the research was done using standard scientific methods and can look into the issue further to find related, and maybe, contradictory research," she said.

"Perhaps one study says a plan is effective and 50 other studies say it is not. It's important to look at all the cumulative research that exists on a topic."

Created in 1973 by the American Dietetic Association, National Nutrition Month is an education campaign that promotes healthy eating through practical guidance, making informed food choices and sound physical fitness.

Tips on practicing good nutrition

•Eat smaller meals, including a vegetable as the center of the plate, with smaller meat and starch servings. Include at least one serving of fruit and vegetables with every meal.

•Drink more water between meals. Try vegetables, fresh fruit or nuts for a snack instead of something sweet.

•Reduce your intake of deep fried foods and trans fats found in processed foods and baked goods.

•Read food labels and reduce the amount of added sugar, corn syrup and salt in your diet. Use fresh herbs and spices to season food instead.

• Don't skip meals.

– Medical News Today

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