Healthy aging encompasses a lifelong love of good food and positive food experiences. Every March since 1980, the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics leads a month-long celebration, National Nutrition Month®, dedicated to the role food and nutrition play in living a healthy lifestyle.
In 2008, the Academy also designated the second Wednesday in March as Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day to commemorate the dedication of RDNs as food and nutrition experts and advocates, and to increase awareness among the public and the media that RDNs are trusted sources of science-based food and nutrition information.
What is an RDN you might ask?
- RDNs are licensed health professionals with specific degrees from accredited colleges and universities. They complete highly-competitive internships and pass a national exam. They must be licensed to practice in the state where they work.
- RDNs use their training and expertise to help individuals and groups make meaningful, personalized, and positive lifestyle changes to maximize their food and nutrition situation.
- RDNs work in varied environments such as public relations/communications, the food industry, health care, universities, research, public health, community settings, government, or private practice.
As Iona’s RDN since 2008, I’ve had the privilege of leading a wonderful team of professionals and volunteers. We are ground zero for all of Iona’s critical food and nutrition programs, which includes:
Weekday and weekend home delivered meals to about 150 older adults
- Weekly free farmer’s markets at Regency House or Iona’s Active Wellness Program at St. Alban’s
- Raised-bed garden to provide additional veggies and herbs to Iona’s Wellness & Arts Center participants’ meals and snacks
- Food pantry with shelf-stable, nutritious food staples
- High calorie/high protein liquid nutrition supplements for our most vulnerable clients
- Assistance with benefit programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) and the Grocery Plus program
- Healthy food demonstrations and nutrition education sessions
- Access to an RDN to provide personalized nutrition assessments for our highest nutrition-risk clients
- A front row seat and active role in advocacy efforts on behalf of reducing senior hunger and malnutrition in our DC community
Here are simple ways you can shift your eating habits and lifestyle, and put a new spin on positive aging:
- Think positively about your relationship with food and your body
- Be active – physically, socially, emotionally
- Focus on your overall dietary pattern, not specific “superfoods”
- As author, professor, and food activist Michael Pollan says: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” as advised by a Mediterranean diet pattern
- Get cooking!
- Eat less added sugar, poor-quality carbohydrates, sodium, poor quality fat, and processed food
- Eat more high-quality carbohydrates, fiber, quality fat, and protein
- Address age-specific nutrient concerns
- Try to eat seafood – fish or shellfish – twice a week to help get enough omega-3 fats
- Stay hydrated
- Explore new foods and flavors
And to help get you started with this advice, get cooking in your kitchen with one of my favorite recipes: Apricot Mustard Glazed Salmon (click here for the recipe). Just three simple ingredients make a wonderful glaze for this quick and delicious salmon recipe.
Now, it’s time to put your best fork forward and commit to making these small changes for a healthier future. Stay tuned for future articles where I go more in-depth on these smart and healthy behaviors. And, in the meantime, let us know how YOU put your best fork forward in the comments!
By Rose Clifford, RDN, MBA
Rose Clifford, RDN, MBA has practiced as a registered dietitian nutritionist in the Washington, DC area for over 30 years. Her current primary work as the Nutrition Program Manager for Iona Senior Services focuses on helping older adults maximize their nutritional health so they can live active, full lives in their own homes. Rose is an active member of the DC Office on Aging Nutrition Task Force and is FY17 co-chair of the Food & Nutrition sub-committee of the DC Senior Advisory Coalition.