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Nutrition made easy

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - March is National Nutrition Month and the professionals at the 55th Medical Group encourage everyone to eat nutritious meals that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. U.S. Air Force graphic by Jeff Gates

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - March is National Nutrition Month and the professionals at the 55th Medical Group encourage everyone to eat nutritious meals that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. U.S. Air Force graphic by Jeff Gates

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Now that the weather is finally warming up, it's time to make it outside, become more active and work on that recurring New Year's resolution of getting in better shape. Being healthy isn't just about going to the gym and working out. It begins with eating right, and March just happens to be National Nutrition Month. Here are some easy-to-follow pointers straight from the American Dietetic Association to help get you on the right path:

· Start with the basics. Eating right doesn't have to be complicated. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. A healthy eating plan is also low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.

· Make calories count by thinking nutrient-rich rather than "good" or "bad" foods. Most food choices should be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients -- and lower in calories. Be aware of portion sizes. Even low-calorie foods can add up when portions are larger than you need.

· Focus on variety by eating foods from all food groups. Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, canned or frozen. Look for locally grown produce that's in season. Vary protein choices with more fish, beans and peas. Include at least three servings of whole grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day.

· Make the most of family mealtime. Eating meals together provides the opportunity to help children develop a healthy attitude toward food. It also enables parents to serve as role models, introduce new foods and establish a regular meal schedule.

· Balancing physical activity and a healthful diet is your best recipe for managing weight and promoting overall health and fitness. Set a goal to be physically active at least 30 minutes every day.

For more information, visit http://www.eatright.org/NNM/default.aspx.