Healthy eating a goal for everyone

DOVER –– March is National Nutrition Month and the Department of Health and Human Services is using the opportunity to push it’s 5-2-1 Almost None Campaign.

5-2-1 Almost None is a simple daily guide for healthy living including eating a total of five servings of fruits and vegetables, getting two or fewer hours of recreational screen time, one hour of physical activity and almost no sugary beverages.

“It’s a campaign that really started in 2005 or 2006 at Nemours and focused on youth, but Dr. Karyl Rattay and I decided to bring it to DHSS and shift the focus to everyone and we started with a soft-launch in January,” Richard Killingsworth, section chief for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at DHSS said.

He said that 5-2-1 Almost None should be a goal for Delawareans because most of us aren’t anywhere near reaching it.

“When it comes to the nutrition portion, the average Delawarean only gets two servings of fruits and vegetables per day so the real challenge is figuring out opportunities to integrate healthier foods into our daily routine,” he said.

Once you are able to integrate more fruits and vegetables into your diet, DHSS suggests trying to stick with three servings of veggies and two of fruit.

Luckily, fresh fruits and veggies are available in our area, and finding locally grown produce isn’t very difficult, especially during the spring, summer and fall at farms and farmers markets.

During the winter or if you’re unable to buy fresh and local, many frozen options are good alternatives.

To keep the routine from getting boring, DHSS recommends eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and including leafy greens.

Both fruits and vegetables are high in healthy nutrients and low in calories, providing a steady source of energy throughout your day.

“We need to start habits of substituting prepared products, like things you can just pull out of a bag with items that you need to slice up and pack with you either for work or school,” Mr. Killingsworth said.

The realm of nutrition includes not only food, but beverages as well, many of which are packed with calories.

DHSS reports that only four sugar-sweetened drinks per day could be half of your recommended calorie intake, and depending on the drink, could take up even more.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are drinks like soda, sweet tea, fruit-flavored drinks and many frozen beverages. All are high in calories and sugar and contain almost no nutrients. Eliminating these types of drinks can reduce caloric intake and help you maintain or lose weight. People with diabetes or pre-diabetes should completely eliminate sugar-sweetened drinks.

“One of the goals we have when it comes to getting healthier is to get the family involved as a unit so everyone is developing healthy habits together,” Mr. Killingsworth said.

To promote the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign, DHSS has been working with partners like the YMCA, Delaware Coalition for Healthy Eating & Active Living (HEAL) and other local non-profits.

Mr. Killingsworth said that DHSS plans on expanding the campaign later in the year, especially as summer approaches and opportunities to become active are more abundant.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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