March is National Nutrition Month.
That makes this a great opportunity to talk to patients about eating a diet that gives them all the vitamins and minerals needed to create the maximum level of health possible.
This is important since the Office
of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) reports that
approximately three out of every four Americans eat a diet that doesn’t include
enough sources from healthy food groups such as fruits and vegetables, dairy
products, and oils.
A majority also take in too much sugar, sodium, and
saturated fat according to the ODPHP, not to mention consuming too many
As a healthcare practitioner, you can help patients make positive
dietary changes and start to reverse these trends this National Nutrition Month,
creating a higher quality of life in return. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Educate patient via handouts
When patients are waiting for their appointment to start,
one way to help them pass the time and
advance their health too is by having handouts in your waiting areas that talk
These pamphlets could discuss what a healthy diet looks
like, how to incorporate more healthy food sources in their meals, and the
impact different foods have on health and wellness.
Even if patients don’t read them while waiting, they can still
take one home and read it later. Some may also want to share the information with
their family and friends, helping them better achieve their nutritional goals
If you aren’t sure what type of information to supply or
don’t have the time or desire to create your own handouts, the Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics offers a variety of handouts
and tipsheets you can download and print out this National Nutrition Month.
Some tipsheet options include Healthy Eating on the Run, 20
Ways to Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables, and Healthy Eating Tips for Vegetarians. Others offer advice about Eating Right on a Budget, Smart Snacking Tips for Kids, and Eating Right with Less Added Sugars.
You can also download activity sheets, helping patients
learn more about nutrition while having a bit of fun. A few of these are geared
toward kids (a coloring page and word search) and others were created with
adults in mind (Sudoku, crossword puzzle, and a quiz).
Create a challenge
Making positive nutritional changes can sometimes be
difficult. Especially if unhealthy patterns and habits have been in place for
quite some time. One way to inspire patients to make these changes despite the
discomfort they face is with a little friendly competition.
Create an office-wide challenge that inspires an internal
drive in patients to make better food choices. This may be by seeing who can
eat the most vegetables for the month of March or who can come up with the most
creative way to get their kids to eat healthier snacks.
Another option is to ask patients to keep track of how many times they choose water over sugary beverages. Keep a tally and see if you can collect enough gallons as a group to fill a bathtub (80 to 110 gallons) or, if you want to shoot even higher, a swimming pool (which can range from 7,600 gallons to 56,250 depending on size).
Hold a cooking event
Sometimes people make unhealthy food choices because they
believe that healthy foods don’t taste good. Debunking this myth by holding
some type of cooking event can teach your patients that foods can be pleasing
to the taste buds, yet still be good for them.
This type of event could be held at a local restaurant, with
one of their chef’s sharing tips and tricks for creating meals that are tasty
and nutritious. Or you could ask an expert in this field to come to your office
and hold a workshop about spices and how to use them to bring out the natural
flavors in certain foods.
By having an interactive, learning-based event such as this,
patients can learn firsthand how to incorporate more nutritious foods into
their diet without adding fat and sugar. Include the kids and future
generations can be changed, solely because they gained the knowledge necessary
to make better food choices at a young age.
Celebrating nutrition can be fun, so be creative and see
what you can come up with. It doesn’t matter so much what you do, but more so
that you bring proper nutrition behaviors to the forefront, giving your
patients the information and encouragement they need to create a higher level