Three ways to be healthy for National Nutrition Month

8 March 2024

March is National Nutrition Month® and the theme for this year is “Beyond the Table.” That theme makes us recall the phrase “thinking outside of the box.” So what does that mean? 

Thinking outside of the box implies breaking free of physical or invisible constraints, traditions and rules. It’s about embracing innovative, creative ideas and using your imagination to explore new ways of doing things instead of doing what’s expected or what’s been done in the past. 

When it comes to nutrition, routine, convenience and familiarity typically rule the day. Eating the same meals week to week or day to day (not that there’s anything wrong with taco Tuesday) can be boring, eventually making less healthy options more appealing. 

We’re here to assure you that you don’t have to have the same, mundane meals to be healthy. And you certainly don’t have to spend five hours per meal to make sure you’re practicing good nutrition.

Three ways to embrace Beyond the Table

1. Experiment with ancient grains 

You may or may not have heard of interesting-sounding sides called ancient grains. These refer to whole grains and seeds (harvested and consumed as grain) that have been eaten for centuries and remain largely unchanged and unadulterated over time. 

Ancient grains offer numerous health benefits, including lowering blood glucose levels. They also contain phytonutrients and antioxidants that fight inflammation, helping prevent chronic diseases.

Recipes for ancient grains are prevalent online. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for breakfast, healthy snacks, side dishes, or a sweet or savory craving. Consider cooking barley, farro or bulgur according to directions you can find right on the package. 

Think beyond the table and get creative by adding flavor to the grain. For example, make it Greek style by adding chopped olives, feta cheese, olive oil, diced cucumbers or sundried tomatoes. 

2. Explore cuisines from different cultures

Experiment with simple healthy dinner ideas that take you around the globe, , and you can feel like you are virtually visiting Africa, Central America or Asia. Use ingredients that may become new favorites and make for flavorful meals, healthy snacks and sides. 

And the best part? There are plenty of meals that are healthy AND easy to make. Here are a few examples: 

  • Chicken curry (Indian)
  • Tarkari (Afghanistan vegetable and chickpea soup)
  • Chicken souvlaki pitas (Mediterranean/Greek)
  • Lettuce cups with tofu and beef (Asian inspired)

Complex recipes aren’t a requirement for eating well and enjoying your food. For instance, you can supplement your healthy dinner ideas by making a quick side of stir-fried greens (Chinese) in five minutes with only five ingredients.

3. Add something fresh

Open to trying ancient grains and cuisines spanning the globe, but still want to have taco Tuesday? Go for it! 

But add a fresh, healthy twist like a wedge of lime or prepare a quick homemade salsa with tomato or black beans and corn and top it off with homemade guacamole, avocado crema or a large dollop of Greek yogurt. 

Side dishes that pair well with tacos include grilled corn, pineapple slices or cabbage slaw. Be generous with herbs and spices such as cilantro, cumin, pepper and cinnamon as they offer numerous health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and lowering blood glucose levels.

Other healthy add-ons and add-ins for any dinner include: 

  • Green salad – Have fun and think beyond the table by experimenting with different greens and raw veggies
  • Canned, rinsed beans – You can even try replacing the ground beef in your burgers with black beans or toss a handful of chickpeas in your salad
  • Fruit chutney – This pairs especially well with grilled or baked chicken and pork
  • Chopped nuts – Add these to cereal, ancient grain dishes, salads and baked goods


Stay vigilant everywhere, every day

Fueling your body may start at the table, but it goes beyond your three squares a day. Be mindful of your food choices when on the run or when attending food-centric events like sporting events, concerts and state fairs. 

What will you do for National Nutrition Month to start or expand your healthy traditions?

Labcorp can help

Labcorp’s health coaching programs can assist your employees in setting up and following their nutrition, exercise and stress management SMART goals. Our team of healthcare professionals supports participants in making positive, sustainable lifestyle changes to help them lead their best lives both inside and outside of the workplace. 

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