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National Nutrition Month encourages Tennesseans to become healthier

By Meg Dickens

Healthy eating and staying active are difficult with a busy schedule. Poor nutrition can cause obesity, but that is not all. Possible side effects include tooth decay, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and even some types of cancer. The Tennessee Department of Health encourages everyone to celebrate National Nutrition Month by taking a step towards healthier habits.

Tennessee has the 15th highest adult obesity rate and the 20th highest young adults rate. Obesity rates are increasing rapidly. Tennessee statistics show approximately 10 percent increase every decade. Johnson County has a 31 percent adult obesity rate. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests adults complete a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly, and that children and teens complete 60 minutes of exercise daily.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is focusing on flexibility for 2019. It acknowledges that there is not one special diet that works for everyone. Use these few tips to eat better in the future.

Use a variety
Keep a variety of healthy food on hand from each main food group. Variety helps ensure that all types of nutrients are included and taste does not get stagnant.

Two fruits and five veggies
Fruits and veggies are healthy and often come with benefits. Carrots, for example, are high in Vitamin A. This improves eyesight.

Cut back on sugary, salty, and fatty foods
Certain foods are clearly not healthy. Reduce their intake with a healthy substitute. Natural can often be just as sweet.

Replace soda with water
The human body is approximately 60 percent water. Water is a necessity to survive. Retailers sell flavor packs that can change up the flavor to almost anything.

Plan meals ahead of time
The healthy option is easier to choose when everything is already in place. Plan meals for the week before grocery shopping so that you will be less likely to end up with junk food.

National Nutrition Month became a national holiday in 1980. This month causes people around the world to re-examine personal health. Find out more about National Nutrition Month at the founder Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ webpage www.eatright.org.