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Eat with color

National Nutrition Month is an education and information campaign created by the American Dietetic Association. It focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

With the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans out as of January 2011 it's even more important to start making better choices about what we eat and how active we are.

The theme is "Eating Right with Color: It's easy!" This campaign emphasizes eating a colorful variety of foods daily. This includes lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, beans/legumes, and low fat dairy.

Add a fruit or veggie to make your plate more colorful at each meal and snack. A good way to get started is with breakfast. If you like cereal or toast daily, spice it up with an apple, banana, orange, strawberries or grapes. They don't have to be fresh if you're worried about things spoiling. Frozen fruit is a great topping to cereals and canned fruit (no sugar added) is an option, too.

At the same time we celebrate National Nutrition Month the Dietary Guidelines for Americans came out in January.

The New Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 is emphasizing two things:

• Maintain a balance of your calories over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight. People are most successful achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through continued attention to consuming only enough calories from foods and beverages to meet their needs and by being physically active.

To help curb the obesity epidemic and improve the health of Americans we need to decrease calories that we consume and increase the calories we expend through physical activity.

• Focus on consuming foods and beverages that are nutrient dense. Americans are currently consuming too much sodium and too many calories from solid fats, added sugars and refined grains.

These are replacing more nutrient dense foods and beverages. This makes it difficult for people to achieve a recommended nutrient intake while controlling calorie and sodium intake.

For example, if you drink 4 ounces of orange juice you will consume calories, sugar and some vitamins. If you eat a medium orange you will also receive the added benefits of antioxidants, fiber and phytochemicals and feel fuller. Therefore, an orange would be more nutrient dense than juice.

The choice is yours to incorporate a colorful variety of foods into your diet every day. The research has come back telling us that if we want to reduce chronic diseases and lead a more healthful life we need to make a change. Make that change during National Nutrition Month.