“If it tastes good, it can’t be healthy.” So goes the old adage, which usually accompanies the choice between chowing down on a 1,000-calorie burger or eating a small garden salad. But any dietitian will tell you that health and taste aren’t in two separate categories; in fact, it’s quite easy (and fun!) to enjoy the taste of eating right.
March is National Nutrition Month, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) wants all Georgians to learn that food can be both healthy and enjoyable. It’s a lesson that the dietitians and nutritionists with the Georgia Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition program help their clients learn and experience every day.
"I like that we can help participants learn how to cook and shop for foods through our WIC classes. It can really help them enjoy the taste of new foods,” said Blanche Moreman, a registered dietitian with the District 4 WIC program.
Georgia has the nation’s fifth largest WIC program, helping more than 270,000 women and children every day. WIC provides vouchers for healthy foods including whole grains, fruits, vegetables and milk to assist moderately low-income women and their children during key developmental periods of their lives. The program also provides nutrition education through one-on-one counseling or in group education classes.
In the classes, WIC dietitians teach clients extra skills to help them cook and try new, healthy foods. Participants can get a lesson on how to cook foods like whole-grain rice, which takes a little more water and a little more time to cook than white rice. Other classes offer clients the chance to try flavors other than salt that they can use to enhance the taste of foods. WIC dietitians also teach clients about adding textures and colors to their plates to make meal time a full sensory experience, a practice known as mindful eating.
Mindful eating taps into all five senses to experience and enjoy different foods. The practice also can help a person identify when they have had enough to eat. WIC dietitians encourage their clients to find ways to use all five senses to enjoy the taste of eating right, such as:
· Seeing and tasting: The March calendar holds the first day of spring, and a host of colorful fruits and vegetables come into season. Though many fruits and vegetables are available year-round, produce that’s in season often looks and tastes fresher and can be less expensive. Look for your favorites on this list of in-season produce, or pick out something new to try.
· Hearing and feeling: Focus on the foods on your plate. Listen for the crunch of lettuce or the texture of whole-grain bread in your mouth.
· Smelling: Put down the salt shaker. Instead, try jazzing up your food by adding spices or citrus juice. The flavors will taste great and smell good, too.
To learn more about Georgia WIC and its nutrition program, visit dph.georgia.gov/WIC.