March is National Nutrition Month, so go ahead, raise your forks and toast to 31 days of celebrating fantastic fruits, vivacious veggies, and all the other foods in our cornucopia. To sweeten the deal, next Wednesday, March 11th is National RD Day! You can send gifts to my home address; just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org since I’m not about to post my address on the internet. I accept any and all gift cards, including but not limited to: Lululemon, Vera Bradley, iTunes, and of course, Stop & Shop.
The theme of this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle”, which is just vague enough to give me some wiggle room to play. I thought about the theme and pondered different ways to interpret it. I found myself stuck on the word “bite”, which got my wheels turning. In a world filled with smoothies, shakes, and supplements (oh my), have we forgotten how to incorporate the simple action of biting into our lives? I think there’s been sufficient time to mourn the end of the Twilight trilogy, where biting may actually bring back some bad memories…so let’s forget if we were “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” (for the record, I was neither, I had to Google their names) and join “Team Bite” instead.
Biting and chewing have always been fundamental components of food consumption, but with increasingly busy lifestyles, we tend to grab the quick and liquid alternative. Take a smoothie, for example. Many of us have jumped on the smoothie bandwagon thanks to places like Jamba Juice, but we don’t realize how many calories and grams of sugar can be packed into that giant fruit drink. Plus, as my good friend, Lauren, pointed out in her Decidedly Nutritious post about smoothies, the sugar content can really add up. The fiber in whole fruit slows down the absorption of its natural sugar, but when everything is blended, all bets are off. The same goes for shakes. Who really needs 30 grams of protein in a single drink? Because guess what…all that extra protein your body can’t use? It gets excreted. Yup, you just lost half the protein in that shake to the ultimate porcelain captor.
Whenever we’re not drinking our calories, we’re popping our vitamins…in pill form. Swallowing a capsule is hardly as satisfying as biting into a savory filet mignon, but we’ve turned our pantries into chemistry labs by replacing foods with pills. I already talked about this in my vitamins and minerals post, but there’s no evidence that consuming vitamins alone can help to prevent or treat disease. We seem to get the best result from eating the whole foods that CONTAIN said vitamins, even though this is harder to study. So next time you’re thinking about buying that bottle containing 5,000,000 milligrams of vitamin D, maybe think about taking a walk outside instead. Or eating some salmon. Or egg yolks. Up to you.
So in order to fully embrace the National Nutrition Month theme, I think it’s time we “take a bite out of food” (yes, that was a McGruff the Crime Dog reference). Taking the time to bite and chew our food means that we have the opportunity to slow down, to savor our food, to eat mindfully. There’s no need to suck down our calories to the point of brain freeze. So come on, join the fun, and leave the protein shake for that meathead in the gym. Interactive question time: what’s your favorite food to bite into?