Universal nutritional guidelines, with a cultural twist – celebrating healthy eating and diversity during National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month®, an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and this year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.”

It’s a celebration of culture, highlighting how there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health—a concept that WellSpark actively embraces throughout our programs.

As we discussed in our prior post, WellSpark’s Commitment to Cultural Competency – Understanding Workplace Culture and Beyond, we believe the best way to help people make lasting changes to their health is to make sure our coaching is relevant to their culture and life. So, topics like nutrition education need to focus on what a participant eats in their everyday life, not just lessons about the standard programming of the western American diet.

That said, there are some universal truths about how to create a healthier diet—or healthier plate—that apply to everyone:

  • Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Get creative with produce by trying an assortment of colors and textures.
  • Experiment with different grains. Try substituting whole grains for refined grains in recipes.
  • Choose lean protein foods. Vary your choices to include seafood, beans, peas, and lentils, as well as eggs, lean cuts of meat and poultry prepared in a healthful way, such as baked or grilled instead of fried.
  • Complete your meal with dairy. Include low-fat or fat-free options like milk, yogurt, cheese, calcium-fortified soymilk, or lactose-free milk.

Keep things fresh by trying different meals
Following the simple guidance outlined above can not only make a big difference in a person’s overall health, but it can be fun and flavorful too. Here are some delicious ideas to change up your breakfast, lunch, and dinner that reflect some of the many cultural cuisines found in our own communities. These healthy alternatives highlight the importance of cultural competency in coaching and the amazing range of options we have for personalizing our plates, together.

Latin AmericaAsian IndianFilipino
BreakfastScrambled egg with tomato, onion and peppers in a corn tortilla or arepa with cheeseBesan cheela (savory pancakes made with chickpea flour and vegetables) with extra tomatoes and spinach on the side, and a cooked eggArroz caldo (chicken and rice porridge with ginger and garlic) with boiled egg, sautéed leafy
greens, and fruit
LunchBean and cheese empanada (stuffed pastry) with a mango and jicama saladRajma (kidney beans in onion, tomato sauce and spices ) with brown rice and a green, leafy vegetable of your choiceKare-kare (beef oxtail soup with peanut butter
and vegetables) with steamed brown rice and
DinnerA cup of sancocho (meat and root vegetable stew) with green salad and yogurt and berries for dessertLaal maas (lamb in hot garlic sauce) with brown rice, vegetable raita (yogurt dip), and a nonstarchy vegetable like cauliflowerGinisang gulay (sautéed vegetables), with shrimp, steamed brown rice and melon

Healthy alternatives highlight the importance of cultural competency

Learn more about National Nutrition Month
National Nutrition Month is an opportunity for everyone to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits that they can put to use throughout the year.

For more information about the annual event, you can visit

We also encourage you to check out our recent post on culture at

Why Good Nutrition Should Matter to You

A Strong Immune System, More Energy and a Reduced Risk in Chronic Diseases Are Just A Few Benefits to a Healthy Diet.

Good nutrition is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. The food choices you make affect your health as well as how you feel. When you combine a well-balanced diet and physical activity, you can maintain a good weight and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.

How Nutrition Impacts Your Overall Health

Unhealthy eating habits have greatly contributed to obesity in the United States with about one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) being obese and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years being obese.1 A poor diet is associated with major health risks that includes heart disease, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke and hypertension. When you eat healthy foods, you are protecting yourself from these health problems as well as nourishing your body. Making small changes to your diet can go a long way and put you on a path to better health. Now that you know the impact that nutrition has on your body, you can enjoy the many benefits of having a healthy diet.

The Benefits to Good Nutrition

Maintains Your Immune System
A healthy diet keeps your immune system strong, balanced and ready to fight against viruses and infections such as colds and flu. Some nutrients to support immune function are vitamin A, C, D, E, Iron and Zinc that are found in various foods such as strawberries, oranges, salmon, spinach and poultry.

Improves Your Well-Being
Eating a well-balanced diet reduces physical and mental health because good nutrition enables people to be more active. You can protect your health and well-being by ensuring that your diet has the essential fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.  

Gives You Energy
Our bodies get their energy from the foods and liquids we ingest. The main nutrients our body uses for energy are protein, fats and carbohydrates found in whole-grain breads and starchy vegetables. Water is just as important to prevent dehydration that causes a lack of energy.

Increases Your Focus
Food affects the way we think. When your body is low in glucose, the brain does not receive the energy it needs to remain focused and sharp. Eating fruits and vegetables throughout your day will keep your mind engaged.

Positively Affects Your Mood
A diet rich in protein, carbohydrates and low in fat have a positive effect on your mood because it provides a supply of iron and omega-3 fatty acids. When people feel happy they are more likely to make healthy food decisions.

To learn more tips and information, contact WellSpark Health at 1-877-224-7350 or [email protected]


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Obesity Trends. 2011. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/databases.html

Five Simple Ways to Eat Your Way Healthy

Transform Your Eating Habits with these Easy Tips.

Eating right can control weight and reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Even losing just a few pounds can benefit your health. Make smart choices to adopt an overall healthier eating plan. A well-balanced diet provides energy to keep you active through your day.

Not sure where to start? Eating healthy does not have to be complicated or expensive. There is a lot of information on how to eat healthy and we understand it sometimes can feel like too much to think about. Healthy eating starts with consciously making healthy food choices. You do not need to be a chef to create healthy meals. Good nutrition is about having a well-rounded diet. Here are some tips to eating healthy in a way that’s easy to understand.

Try These 5 Simple Tips When Planning Your Next Meal

Plan meals to include different colored vegetables throughout the week. Be sure to include vegetables from all five vegetable subgroups to mix up the nutrients and vitamins you can get from each group – dark-green, starchy, red-orange, beans and peas and other vegetables. Most vegetables are low in calories and fat. Vegetables are rich in potassium which will decrease bone loss. Keep meals simple and economical. Shopping Tip: Buy fresh vegetables in season since they cost less.

Choose fruit not only as your snack but try it for dessert instead of sugary sweets. Make most of your choices whole or cut-up fruit rather than juice to ensure you are getting the dietary fiber they provide. Most fruits are low in calories, sodium and fat. Fruits provide various nutrients such as vitamins C and A and folate as well as dietary fiber and potassium. Cooking Tip: Use fruits to sweeten a recipe instead of adding sugar. 

Try brown rice instead of white and whole grain bread for sandwiches. Shopping tip: Look for words “100% whole grain” or “100 whole wheat” on the food label. Whole grains provide more nutritional value such as fiber than refined grains. Cooking Tip: Cook extra brown rice when you have time to meal prep for the work week. Refrigerate half the portion and serve later as a side dish or in a salad.

Protein foods include both animal (meat, poultry, eggs and seafood) and plant (beans, nuts, peas, soy products and seeds) sources. Vary your protein food choices and eat plant protein foods more often. Adding plant-based proteins into the rotation, like chickpeas, lentils, red and black beans, quinoa, tofu and almonds will help with fiber intake. Plant-based proteins are naturally low in saturated fat and high in fiber. Meal Prep Tip: Add a half cup of beans or peas to your salad plate to add texture, flavor and fiber.

Make low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt part of your meal. Dairy products provide calcium, vitamin D, potassium and protein. These nutrients work together to strengthen our bones and teeth. When milk products are adequately consumed they can decrease your risk of osteoporosis, a condition where bones become brittle and weak. For those who are lactose-intolerant, then choose lactose-free alternatives. Meal Prep Tip: Try adding fresh fruit to plain low-fat yogurt for breakfast instead of buying the flavored/sweetened variety.

Want more info or tips like these? Contact WellSpark Health at 877.224.7350 or [email protected].


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, http://eatright.org

United States Department of Agriculture, https://www.myplate.gov/

CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/index.html

The information provided is NOT intended to be medical advice and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice and care. Contact your physician when seeking any medical advice.

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