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National Nutrition Month at BYU: An Appetizing Experience

BYU students are learning to eat, pray, and love their bodies by making small but sustainable changes in their eating and physical activity habits. While the shine of the new year has faded, the BYU Student Dietetics Association aims to bring back the hopeful glimmer of resolutions for a healthier life this March for National Nutrition Month. The annual campaign was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to promote the importance of making informed food choices.

This year, National Nutrition Month is based around the theme: “Eat Right, Bite by Bite.” The BYU Student Dietetics Association is dedicated to encouraging everyone to make “bite-sized” changes in their nutrition, which will contribute to an overall healthful effect. “We don’t want to just label food as bad. We want to find a balance—for students to have a healthy relationship with food,” says Gretel Tam, senior class representative of the BYU Student Dietetics Association.

That balance can be difficult as a student; nutrition often does not come into play in the juggling act of study, work, socializing, and family. Clubs on campus promote free donuts, chocolate milk, and pizza to encourage attendance at events. These offerings often present an easy and tempting fix for hunger. However, the Dietetics Association wants to shine a spotlight back to fruits, vegetables, and home-made lunches by providing a National Nutrition Month calendar that includes a simple and fun nutrition challenge for each day of March. All students can enter to win a $25 Visa Gift Card if they complete five out of seven challenges by the end of each week.

Some of the challenge examples include: “Stop eating when full,” “Eat a red/orange veggie or fruit,” and also “Eat pie!” In other words, have your servings of fruits, veggies, and whole grains but eat your dessert too. Viewed challenges on the Dietetic Association’s Instagram and website, and enter the weekly drawing here .

The hope is that these challenges can, in a small yet powerful way, help the BYU community to form better relationships with food and ultimately with themselves. A healthy diet not only affects the way you feel physically, but it also can decrease the risk of depression and improve brain function related to mood ( Li, 2017 ).

In addition, healthy and balanced meals are linked to improved academic achievement, and omega 3: nutrients essential to brain development and functioning ( Burrows et al., 2017 ).

Since food is crucial to creating a foundation for a healthy life both physically and mentally, Tam suggests that “eating intuitively, taking the time to eat and the time to develop healthy relationships with and around food are pieces to the puzzle of your whole health and well-being.”

To kick start your journey to a healthier, happier life, here are 5 Top Nutrition Tips by BYU Dietetics students:

  1. Don’t let the “free” terms fool you. Labels like this are just there for marketing and to convince consumers that their foods are “healthy”. Some products will say “no sugar added” but have a ton of natural sugar in them to begin with. - Nhi Tran
  2. Plan your meals. It saves A LOT of time and money throughout the week. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail! - Hilma Porter.
  3. Prep your meals beforehand. Spend a few hours on the weekend prepping healthy meals and snacks for the following week. I find that when I take the time to meal prep, it’s easier to plan out healthy meals, and then I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the week. - Elyce Gamble.
  4. Take the time to sit down and eat. No matter how busy I am, doing this has made a huge difference in my life! - Gretel Tam.
  5. Avoid fad diets! They don’t last! Choose to eat a variety of fresh foods every day, and still make room for the things you love. - Julia Hackman.