March is National Nutrition Month and the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services (DCDHHS) invites the community to focus on healthful eating and physical activity that can be incorporated into our daily routines year-round.
The annual campaign was created 50 years ago by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and this year’s theme is “Fuel for the Future,” emphasizing the benefits of eating with sustainability in mind as a way to create healthy habits while also protecting the planet.
Healthful eating combined with physical activity is also key to maintaining a healthy weight as well as preventing obesity and some chronic diseases . Obesity is a national epidemic that affects one in three adults and one in six children in the United States and according to 2019 statistics, 31 percent of adults 20 years or older in Dare County were living with obesity – representing a six percent increase since 2014.
“Focusing on what’s in season will naturally have you eating a variety of foods and getting a variety of vitamins and minerals,” said Hannah Nickerson, a Registered Dietitian and Dare County’s Nutritionist Supervisor for the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program. “Eating fruits and vegetables in season is also better for the environment and helps you choose things that are fresh and delicious.”
Nickerson said another way to eat sustainably is by growing your own food. “Growing a family garden not only gives you fresh foods to eat, but also gives you a reason to spend time outside,” she said. Some vegetables that are in-season during March, Nickerson added, are asparagus, broccoli, garlic, chard and greens.
Dare County WIC Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian Rylee Simonsen reminds us that nutrition isn’t about being perfect. “Look at the big picture and focus on eating a variety of foods,” Simonsen said. “Eating many different colors and kinds helps provide the energy our bodies and brains need. Eating enough helps us function, feel and think at our best.”
WIC is a food assistance and nutrition program offering services to women who are pregnant or postpartum, infants, and children under age 5. As Registered Dietitians for the Dare County WIC Program, Nickerson and Simonsen support families in reaching their nutrition goals and making food choices that help children grow and develop.
For more information on what fruits and vegetables are in season throughout the year, visit: https://www.ncagr.gov/markets/availabilitychart.pdf. For more information or to contact our WIC program, please call 252.475.5068.