Eat With the Environment in Mind

Sierra Rankin, MS, Millennium
Associate Operations Manager

Practicing mindful eating extends beyond the act of consuming food; it includes expressing gratitude for meals and contemplating the impact of one’s food choices on both the local and global environment. Embracing a more sustainable approach to eating not only benefits personal health but also contributes to creating a healthier planet for current and future generations. Sustainable eating manifests in various forms, offering individuals the flexibility to adopt practices that align with their values and lifestyle.

Enjoy More Plant-Based Meals and Snacks

Opting for plant-based foods over animal-based ones can significantly contribute to reducing environmental impact, including decreased land use, water consumption, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. This shift towards plant-based eating promotes greater sustainability. Plant-based diets can take various forms, adapting to individual preferences and lifestyles. For instance, incorporating recipes without meat, such as a butternut squash curry, is one approach. Another option is to utilize vegetables to reduce the quantity of meat consumed, a technique known as “The Blend,” as created by the Mushroom Council.

Expanding plant-based swaps beyond meals to snacks is also an easy way to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts into your diet, further aligning with sustainable and environmentally conscious eating practices.

Ways to get started with a plant-based diet.

  • Eat lots of vegetables.
  • Change the way you think about meat.
  • Choose good fats.
  • Cook a vegetarian meal at least one night a week.
  • Include whole grains for breakfast.
  • Go for greens.
  • Build a meal around a salad.
  • Eat fruit for dessert.

Purchase Foods with Minimal Packaging

Have you ever returned from the grocery store only to find yourself filling your kitchen trash can with bags and packaging from your recent purchases? Consider taking a moment during your next shopping trip to assess the amount of packaging associated with the items you buy and make a conscious effort to minimize it. This small change can contribute significantly to reducing the volume of waste sent to landfills, thus diminishing your overall environmental footprint.

Buy Foods in Season and Shop Locally When Possible

While shopping seasonally is not a novel concept, its impact on the environment may not be fully appreciated. Opting for seasonal produce can lead to a reduction in the distance that food travels, thereby helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, this choice supports local farmers who often employ sustainable agricultural practices, contributing to the well-being of our communities and promoting a more environmentally friendly approach to food consumption.

Farmer’s markets

Farmer’s markets offer another avenue for supporting local farmers without requiring a subscription or a significant upfront cost. Many areas host local farmer’s markets, typically during the summer months or even throughout the entire year. These markets operate on specific days each week throughout their open season, featuring various local farmers and producers on any given week.

At a farmer’s market, each farmer has their own stand showcasing their produce. This setup allows you to engage directly with the farmers or their representatives, enabling you to inquire about their products and make small purchases to sample the farm’s offerings. Some individuals choose to explore farmer’s markets before committing to a subscription from a specific farm. Alternatively, you can opt to visit the farmer’s market regularly to access a variety of local produce without a subscription commitment.

Start A Container or Backyard Garden to Grow Food at Home

If you are looking for a new hobby, consider taking up gardening. Cultivating your own food at home not only brings joy but also contributes to reducing packaging waste, conserving water, and decreasing the fossil fuels associated with typical transportation routes. A great entry point into gardening is starting with an herb garden, and you can begin by checking your local grocery store for a potted basil plant. Gardening has the potential to add an extra dose of joy to your everyday life while fostering a more sustainable and environmentally conscious lifestyle.

What You Can Grow in a Container Garden

  • Herbs
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Certain corn varieties
  • Blueberries
  • Dwarf fruit trees



Variety is Key

Sierra Rankin, MS, Millennium Associate Operations Manager

Opting for wise food choices plays a crucial role in maintaining health as you age. Developing an understanding of the various food groups and their recommended proportions in your diet contributes to the formation of a healthy eating pattern over time.

It’s essential to ensure you meet the recommended intake for each food group without exceeding your daily calorie limit. Keep in mind that the appropriate amount to maintain your weight depends on factors such as age, gender, and physical activity level. Striving for a balanced diet involves regularly incorporating a variety of foods from different groups into your meals.


Your parents were correct: incorporating vegetables into your diet is fundamental for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In fact, there’s no harm in consistently adding a variety of plants to every meal. Vegetables boast a diverse range of colors, flavors, and textures, and they are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, and valuable fiber. The vegetable food group encompasses dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, starchy vegetables, as well as legumes like beans and peas.


Leafy green vegetables stand out as an exceptionally healthy choice. For instance, spinach provides essential nutrients such as vitamins K and A, folate, magnesium, iron, and dietary fiber.


Fruits play a vital role in maintaining a healthy diet, adding color, flavor, and essential nutrients to your meals. The array of choices includes citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, various berries, tree-grown fruits such as apricots, cherries, peaches, and mangoes, as well as others like figs, grapes, and pineapples.

Incorporating more fruits into your diet offers significant benefits for overall health. Similar to vegetables, fruits contain carbohydrates and provide valuable fiber that supports a healthy digestive system. While 100% fruit juice contributes to this category, it is recommended that at least half of the fruits consumed be whole fruits. When opting for frozen, canned, or dried fruit, choose options with the lowest added sugar content.


Any food derived from wheat, rye, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or other cereal grains falls under the category of grain products. This encompasses a variety of items such as bread, pasta, breakfast cereal, grits, tortillas, and even popcorn. Grains, in conjunction with fruits, vegetables, and dairy, constitute a primary source of carbohydrates, the body’s main energy provider. It is advisable to check food labels to opt for grain choices low in saturated fat and added sugar. Whole grains offer iron, various B vitamins, and fiber.

Certain grain products undergo a refining process, resulting in a finer texture and extended shelf life.

However, this process removes fiber and nutrients. Many refined grains are subsequently enriched, meaning that certain nutrients are reintroduced after processing. Examples of refined grain products include white flour, degermed cornmeal, white bread, and white rice.


Proteins are often referred to as the body’s building blocks, crucial for tissue building and repair, as well as supporting the immune system to fight infection. Additionally, the body utilizes excess protein as an energy source. For optimal health, older adults are advised to include a diverse range of nutrient-dense proteins in their diet. Opt for lean (low-fat) meats and poultry, and consider alternative sources such as seafood, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, and soy products.

Plant-based protein sources, like nuts and seeds, tend to be lower in saturated fat, cholesterol-free, and provide additional fiber and health-promoting nutrients. It’s essential to note that plant-based meat alternatives can differ in nutritional value, often being highly processed and containing elevated sodium levels.

For a balanced intake, it is recommended to consume 8 to 10 ounces of various seafood per week. This not only contributes to protein intake but also ensures a source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, which are beneficial for heart health.


Incorporating dairy into the diet is also beneficial, aiding in the maintenance of strong bones and supplying essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Opting for low-fat or fat-free options within the dairy group supports heart health by providing vital vitamins and minerals with reduced fat content. Additionally, some fortified dairy alternatives can offer comparable nutritional benefits to traditional dairy products.



See a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN): Celebrating National Nutrition Month®

Sierra Rankin, MS, Millennium Associate Operations Manager

Between what you hear on TV and read in the news, eating well can seem like a real challenge. But it doesn’t have to be. A registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN) will partner with you to develop a safe and realistic eating plan that you can stick with for the long haul. To guide and motivate you, an RDN will use creative and out-of-the-box strategies to help with meal planning, grocery shopping and mindful eating.

What Is a Registered Dietitian?

A licensed dietitian is a healthcare professional with specialized expertise in nutrition and the creation of tailored eating plans to address individual health requirements. These professionals undergo specific training and meet qualifications to obtain their designation. In the United States, accreditation is typically granted by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), the credentialing agency affiliated with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).

A registered dietitian can be identified by the post-nominal letters following their name, such as RD for registered dietitian or RDN for registered dietitian nutritionist, a more contemporary term for the same qualification. In states mandating licensure, a licensed dietitian will display LD after RD or RDN. Additionally, certain dietitians may hold supplementary credentials in specific dietetic specialties.

What Does a Dietitian Do?

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) stand out as the foremost and trustworthy providers of up-to-date, scientifically grounded food and nutrition information. They serve as the authorities in translating the intricacies of nutritional science into practical strategies for promoting healthy living.

While the roles of RDNs can vary, there are commonalities within the profession, including:

  • Educating others on diet and nutrition
  • Assessing a patient’s nutritional needs
  • Developing personalized dietetic plans
  • Offering individual counseling on dietetics and nutrition
  • Assisting patients in meal planning
  • Engaging in data collection, re-search, and report preparation

Individuals seek the expertise of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) for various reasons, including the following:

You Are Seeking Assistance in Man-aging Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Or Other Chronic Diseases.

A RDN can assist you in understanding your condition and its potential impact based on your dietary choices. Additionally, they collaborate with you to develop a personalized eating plan that incorporates the necessary nutrients to effectively manage your condition.

If You Are Considering or Have Undergone Gastric Bypass Surgery.

Following surgery, as your stomach can only handle small portions, obtaining essential nutrients becomes challenging. As a valuable member of your healthcare team, a RDN assists you in adapting your eating plan to fulfill these nutritional requirements while ensuring you still feel satisfied.

You Are Experiencing Digestive Issues.

Collaborating closely with both you and your doctor, a RDN offers valuable guidance to fine-tune your diet. Working together, you can identify food choices that won’t exacerbate your condition, such as reducing the intake of fried foods, caffeinated beverages, and carbonated drinks.

You Are Pregnant, Attempting to Conceive, Or Are a New Parent.

Schedule a meeting with a RDN to ensure you receive the necessary nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. Additionally, post-delivery, a RDN can assist in ensuring both you and your baby obtain the essential nutrients to support overall well-being.

You Have a Food Allergy, Intolerance, Or Sensitivity

If you are un-certain about dietary choices due to conditions like celiac disease, food allergies, lactose intolerance, or others, it’s common to feel over-whelmed by restrictions. This can result in a monotonous diet that may lack essential nutrition. A RDN can provide guidance by teaching you strategies to identify foods to avoid and suggest suitable substitutions, ensuring your diet remains both balanced and flavorful.

You or Your Child Are Dealing with Disordered Eating.

As integral members of the treatment team, RDNs offer counseling to individuals dealing with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

You Are Seeking Practical Lifestyle Advice.

If you are seeking assistance in navigating the truths and myths of nutrition headlines, understanding label information at the supermarket, discovering budget-friendly healthy cooking, learning strategies for dining out health-fully, and managing temptations, consulting with a RDN is invaluable. With personalized care, a RDN considers your health history, food preferences, and lifestyle habits to provide tailored advice. Together, you will set goals, with follow-up visits focusing on maintenance and monitoring your progress, ensuring a customized approach rather than generic, one-size-fits-all diet recommendations.


  1. 10 reasons to see an RDN. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: (n.d.).
  2. Professional, C. C. medical. (n.d.). What is a registered dietitian?. Cleve-land Clinic.
  3. Rose, V. (2022, March 23). The im-portance of registered dietitian nutri-tionists. Health Designs.

Fueling Your Body and Nourishing Your Soul: Celebrating National Nutrition Month®


March is not only a time for blooming flowers and warmer weather but also a month dedicated to promoting healthy eating habits and nutrition education. National Nutrition Month®, created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is an annual campaign aimed at raising awareness about the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. In this blog, we’ll explore the significance of National Nutrition Month® and share practical tips for fueling your body and nourishing your soul.

Understanding the Importance of Nutrition

Nutrition plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being. The foods we eat provide essential nutrients that fuel our bodies, support growth and development, and help prevent chronic diseases. National Nutrition Month® serves as a reminder to prioritize nutrition and make conscious choices about what we eat.

The Theme for National Nutrition Month® 2024: “Beyond the Table”

Each year, National Nutrition Month® is celebrated with a specific theme that highlights different aspects of nutrition and healthy eating. The theme for 2024, “Beyond the Table,” encourages us to look beyond the food on our plates and consider the journey of our food from farm to table. This theme emphasizes the importance of understanding where our food comes from, how it’s produced, and how our food choices impact the environment and our health.

Tips for Healthy Eating

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some practical tips for incorporating healthy eating habits into your daily life:

  • Prioritize whole foods: Choose foods that are minimally processed and rich in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Practice portion control: Pay attention to portion sizes and avoid oversized servings, especially when dining out.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and support overall health.
  • Limit added sugars and unhealthy fats: Be mindful of added sugars, saturated fats, and trans fats in processed foods and opt for healthier alternatives.
  • Cook at home: Prepare meals at home using fresh, wholesome ingredients whenever possible, and limit eating out or ordering takeout.

Celebrating Cultural Diversity in Food

National Nutrition Month® is also an opportunity to celebrate the diverse cuisines and food traditions that enrich our lives. Exploring foods from different cultures can introduce new flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques into your diet while honoring cultural diversity and heritage.

Engaging in Physical Activity

In addition to healthy eating, regular physical activity is essential for overall health and well-being. National Nutrition Month® encourages us to incorporate physical activity into our daily routines, whether it’s through walking, jogging, cycling, yoga, or dancing. Find activities you enjoy and make them a regular part of your lifestyle.


National Nutrition Month® is a time to celebrate the power of healthy eating and the importance of making informed food choices. By prioritizing nutrition, incorporating healthy eating habits into our daily lives, and celebrating cultural diversity in food, we can nourish our bodies and nurture our souls. Let’s use this month as an opportunity to recommit to our health and well-being and make positive changes that will last a lifetime.


Stay Nourished on Any Budget: Celebrating National Nutrition Month®


by Sierra Rankin, MS, Millennium Associate Operations Manager

National Nutrition Month, sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, serves as a dedicated nutrition education and information campaign. This initiative aims to spotlight the significance of making informed food choices and cultivating healthy eating and physical activity habits.

Maintaining a well-balanced diet plays a crucial role in supplying the necessary calories and nutrients required to support your daily activities, including regular exercise.

However, when it comes to nourishing your body for optimal exercise performance, the process is more nuanced than merely opting for vegetables over doughnuts. It involves consuming the right types of food at specific times throughout the day.

Begin on a Positive Note

The initial meal of your day holds significant importance. Regularly consuming breakfast has been associated with a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Commencing your day with a nutritious meal, aids in replenishing your blood sugar levels, providing the essential fuel for your muscles and brain.

This importance is amplified on days when exercise is part of your routine. Skipping breakfast can result in feelings of light-headedness or lethargy during your workout. The selection of the right break-fast is crucial, as relying on simple carbohydrates, such as a plain white bagel or doughnut, may not sustain feelings of fullness for long.

In contrast, opting for a breakfast rich in fiber and protein can stave off hunger for a more extended period and offer the necessary energy to support your physical activity.

Load Up on Protein in Your Snacks and Meals

Protein is essential for sustaining the growth, maintenance, and repair of your body. It plays a crucial role in building and repairing muscles, contributing to the positive outcomes of your workout. While it can serve as an energy source when carbohydrates are scarce, it is not a primary fuel during exercise.

According to the Harvard Health Blog, adults should aim to consume approximately 0.8 grams of protein per day for every kilogram of their body weight, equivalent to about 0.36 grams of protein per pound. Individuals engaged in regular exercise and older adults may have increased protein needs.

For optimal health, prioritize lean protein sources that are low in saturated and trans fats. Restricting the intake of red meat and processed meats is advisable for a well-rounded and balanced diet.

Increase Your Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables serve as abundant sources of natural fiber, vitamins, minerals, and essential compounds vital for proper bodily function. Additionally, they are low in calories and fat.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables during each meal.

To maximize nutritional benefits, strive to “eat the rainbow” by incorporating fruits and vegetables of various colors. This diverse selection ensures access to a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants available in the produce aisle.

Make a habit of exploring new fruits or vegetables during each grocery store visit. For convenient and healthy snacks, keep dried fruits in your workout bag and raw vegetables in the fridge.

Prioritize Pre-exercise Fueling for Best Performance

Achieving the right balance of carbs and protein is crucial when fueling up before or after a workout. Opt for pre-workout snacks that blend carbohydrates with protein, as they can pro-vide a more energizing effect com-pared to junk foods containing simple sugars and high fat content.

Avoiding Cutting Too Many Calories

If your goal is weight loss or body toning, the temptation to drastically cut calories may arise. While reducing calories is a key aspect of weight loss, it’s essential not to go to extremes.

A weight loss plan should not leave you feeling fatigued or unwell. Experiencing exhaustion or illness is an indication that you might not be consuming enough calories to support good health and fitness.

For most women aiming to lose weight safely, a diet of 1,200 to 1,500 daily calories is appropriate, while most men seeking weight loss can consider a diet of 1,500 to 1,800 daily calories.

If you lead a highly active lifestyle or have fitness goals that don’t involve weight loss, you might need more calories. Consulting with your doctor or a dietitian can help determine the right calorie intake to support your individual lifestyle and fitness objectives.

Balance is Key

As you embrace an active lifestyle, you will likely identify foods that provide optimal energy and those that have adverse effects. The crucial element is tuning into your body, finding a balance between what feels right and what is beneficial for you.

Consider these tips:

  • Make breakfast a consistent part of your routine.
  • Opt for complex carbohydrates, lean protein sources, healthy fats, and a diverse range of fruits and vegetables.
  • Ensure your fridge and gym bag are stocked with nutritious workout snacks.

Achieving the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and other nutrients is essential to fuel your exercise routine effectively.


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  2. National Nutrition Month. / U.S. Department of Housing and Ur-ban Development (HUD). (n.d.).

National Nutrition Month®: A Journey “Beyond the Table”


March brings more than just the promise of spring; it’s also the time for National Nutrition Month®, an annual campaign spearheaded by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This month-long observance, which began as National Nutrition Week in 1973 and expanded to a month in 1980 due to growing interest in nutrition, invites everyone to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. The theme for 2024, “Beyond the Table,” invites us to explore the journey of our food from its source to our plates, emphasizing the importance of making informed choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

Week 1: Stay Nourished on Any Budget

The first week of National Nutrition Month® focuses on debunking the myth that nutritious food must be expensive. It’s possible to eat healthily without breaking the bank, and this week is all about learning how. Tips for saving on healthy meals include developing cooking and meal planning skills, using a grocery list to shop sales, and exploring community resources such as SNAP, WIC, and local food banks. Ensuring food safety at home is also vital. This week emphasizes that with a little knowledge and planning, nutrition can be both affordable and delicious.


Week 2: See a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

The second week shines a spotlight on the role of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. RDNs are the food and nutrition experts, board-certified and credentialed by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. They work in various settings, from hospitals to schools, and help individuals tailor their diets to meet specific health goals. This week encourages everyone to consider consulting an RDN for personalized nutrition advice and underscores the diverse roles these professionals play in promoting health and well-being.


Week 3: Eat a Variety of Foods from All Food Groups

“Diversity” is the keyword for the third week. It’s about encouraging the consumption of a wide range of foods from all food groups. Eating a variety of foods ensures a full range of nutrients, and this can be as simple as “eating the rainbow” – incorporating different colors of fruits and vegetables into your diet. This week also encourages trying new ingredients and including cultural foods and traditions in your meals. It’s a celebration of the rich tapestry of flavors and nutrients that a diverse diet offers.


Week 4: Eat with the Environment in Mind

The final week of National Nutrition Month® is dedicated to environmental consciousness in our eating habits. This includes using leftovers creatively, exploring plant-based diets, and opting for locally grown foods. It also encourages growing your own food, whether through traditional gardening or more modern methods like hydroponic gardens. This week reminds us that our food choices don’t just affect our health but also have a broader impact on the environment.


Supporting Educational Resources

Each week is supported by a range of educational resources and presentations. For example, the first week’s focus on budget-friendly nutrition is complemented by resources on meal planning, while the second week’s spotlight on RDNs is supported by materials on mindful eating. These resources provide valuable tools and tips for implementing the weekly themes in everyday life.

The Role of Health Promotion Coordinators and Registered Dietitians

Throughout National Nutrition Month®, Health Promotion Coordinators, Wellness/Fitness staff members, and on-site Registered Dietitians are available to provide more information and guidance. These professionals can help answer questions and provide direction in making healthier food choices and adopting physical activity habits.

National Nutrition Month® is more than just a campaign; it’s a movement towards a healthier, more informed society. The 2024 theme, “Beyond the Table,” encourages us to look deeper into the origins of our food and the impact of our choices on our health and the environment. It’s a call to action for everyone to explore and embrace the world of nutrition and make informed decisions for a healthier future.

For more information, please visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ official website for National Nutrition Month® at