Fuel for the Future

By Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County
The Truth Contributor

“Fuel for the Future.” is the theme of National Nutrition Month. It’s the time when we are encouraged to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. This year’s theme includes eating with sustainability in mind to nourish ourselves during every phase of life and protect the environment.

This article will share nutrition tips as well as list some free classes that will be offered in Lucas County this springtime and early summer.

Eat well and save money. This recommendation takes a little bit of thinking ahead. We all know that we have to eat but if we wait until we’re hungry to make those decisions, it could cost us more than if we plan some meals and snacks. Stock up on easy, healthy, portable snacks to have on hand. Use a grocery list when purchasing food. Learn about community resources such as SNAP, WIC and local food banks.

Although you might not need additional support, there are many people in the community who do qualify for food benefits. If someone is in need, 211 is a good place to ask questions and get the best resources for each individual situation. If you have questions about SNAP-Ed or EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) classes in Lucas County, check out lucas.osu.edu

The “Fuel for the Future” theme highlights eating with the environment in mind.  Buy foods in season and shop locally when possible. Purchase foods with minimal packaging and bring your own bags to the store or farmers’ market. Enjoy more plant-based meals and snacks. Start a container or backyard garden or join a community garden to grow food close to home. OSU Extension, Lucas County is offering a series of free classes called “From Plant to Plate” at the ProMedica Ebeid Institute (1806 Madison Avenue, Toledo, Ohio, 2nd floor above the Market on the Green grocery store).

From Plant to Plate features information on easy-to-grow, economical, and edible plants for the gardener, no matter the space – containers, raised beds, or in the ground. From Plant to Plate is a series of different classes – you can attend one lesson or all four. Each class will be digging into different seasonal topics, but all will be connected to gardening and how to make simple recipes with the produce that you have grown.

The four community classes will be on the first Friday of the Month (March through June) from 12pm – 1pm. The first one is Friday, March 3, 12-1pm. The others: Friday, April 7, 12-1pm, From Plant to Plate II, Friday, May 5, 12 -1pm, From Plant to Plate III, and Friday June 2, 12-1pm, From Plant to Plate IV (lucas.osu.edu)

Use the expertise of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). RDN’s are trained to help with choices in different situations. For instance, nutrient needs may change some over age. Food choices can help specific health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease as well as many others. Just as we use doctors and health care professionals for testing, diagnosis, and recommendations, they can also refer to an RDN as part of the healthcare team. As good as it is to keep updated with general healthy eating recommendations, an RDN can share personalized nutrition information to meet your health goals.

Eat a variety of foods from all food groups. There is not one single “right” diet. Avoid fad diets that promote unnecessary restrictions. Eat foods in various forms including fresh, frozen, canned and dried. Enjoy your favorite cultural foods and traditions. Practice gratitude for your body by giving it the fuel it needs.

Make tasty foods at home. Learn cooking and meal preparation skills. Try new flavors and foods from around the world. It’s also good for your wallet as well as the environment to find creative ways to use leftovers rather than tossing them. Think about making easy dishes such as sandwiches, soups, or salads. Create happy memories by eating with friends and family when possible.

One concept that has been mentioned is Mindful Eating. As noted above, you are encouraged to practice gratitude – gratitude for your body as well as gratitude for the food that gives it fuel. The act of enjoying a meal either alone or by creating memories with loved ones can all be parts of mindful eating. If you would like to learn more about mindfulness in general, the same Introduction to Mindfulness class is going to be offered at local Toledo Lucas County Public Libraries this summer. Wednesday, June 14, 10-11am, at Kent Library, Wednesday, July 12, 6:30-7:30pm, at Oregon Library, Tuesday, July 18, 6:30-7:30pm, at Holland Library, and Thursday, August 3, 6:30-7:30pm, at King Road Library

Cheers to fueling your future with healthy choices! Information from www.eatright.org