National Nutrition Month: 12 ways your commissary can help restart your health, wellness goals
Well into the new year, those “get healthy” resolutions often have fallen victim to busy schedules and daily diversions, but National Nutrition Month is here to help us get back on track.
“National Nutrition Month in March is a great time to reenergize those goals and recommit to a healthier lifestyle,” said Deborah Harris, the Defense Commissary Agency’s Health and Wellness Program Manager, MPH, RD, CDE (Masters of Public Health, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator). “Your commissary is here to back you up and keep you motivated with the following tips.”
Use these 12 ways to help you become a savvy shopper to make those health and wellness resolutions a reality. See the infographic for more details on each of the ideas.
- Plan Ahead. Planning your meals for the week, creating a grocery list and looking for sales before you shop will save you time and money in the long run. Ensuring you have all the ingredients on hand makes it more likely that you will prepare a nutritious, home-cooked meal. Review the sales flyer and find dietitian approved recipes to help you plan your menu. Be sure to find the “Thinking Outside the Box” recipe for the week in the sales flyer; the ingredients will be found on an end cap at special pricing.
- Divide your cart. An empty cart, just like an empty stomach, can wreak havoc on smart food choices. Consider using a purse or jacket to visually divide your cart in half. Shop produce first and fill the half closest to you with fresh fruits and veggies; put everything else in the other half. Loading up on nutritious foods first will reduce the temptation to splurge. Overall, aim to fill 80 percent of your basket with nutritious food choices like fresh, frozen and canned produce, lean protein foods, healthy fats from nuts, oils and fish, whole grains, and lower fat dairy products.
- Read food labels. Always compare products choosing those lowest in sodium, added fats and sugars. Labels may tout “low fat,” “low sugar,” or “all natural” but a deeper dive into the nutrition label and knowing the fat and sugar aliases will help you make sure you are getting something nutritious. The infographic lists some of the sneaky names for ingredients on nutrition labels.
- Choose frozen, canned or dried produce in addition to fresh. Those options can be just as nutritious and will last longer. Always choose those options with the lowest amount of sodium and packed in its own juices – no heavy syrups or sauces.
- Use the commissary’s Nutrition Guide Program (NPG) labels to select the most nutritious option on the shelf. Look for color-coded shelf tags highlighting nutrition attributes including low sodium, low fat, whole grain, no added sugar and great source of fiber. This easy-to-use grocery shopping resource allows you to quickly choose the best food options.
- Enjoy Freedom’s Choice food products, one of our commissary store brands. DeCA’s private label brands offer a high-quality, lower cost alternative to national brand products.
- Try new plant-based options. Commissaries worldwide are now offering four new alternative meat options from Beyond Meat: Beyond Burger, Brat Sausage, Hot Italian Sausage and Plant-Based Ground Beyond Beef. These cholesterol-free, meat-free options will help you meet health and fitness goals while offering a similar taste to animal proteins.
- Take advantage of Meat Power Boxes. Participating commissaries offer 25-30 percent additional savings on meat power boxes. These include a Healthy Alternatives Box, an Economy box, a Tailgate box and a Fall Favorites box. Visit commissaries.com for dietitian approved recipes corresponding to the cuts of meat in each box.
- Choose commissary meal kits over the drive through for those busy days. Don’t let a busy day derail your health and wellness goals. Have a selection of quick and convenient commissary meal kits ready in your refrigerator. The kits, all under the Tyson Tastemaker brand, are only available at stateside commissaries. The four-portion meals come in Fresh Meal Kits, One Pan Dishes and Premium Pairings meal options. All meals contain fresh protein, flavorful sauces and finishing elements such as toppings, breading or vegetables. The individually wrapped ingredients are easily combined to create a tasty culinary delight with easy-to-follow directions or recipe cards, which are included with every meal.
- Enjoy convenience and a home-cooked meal. Dietitian-approved recipe poster displays, which include an ingredient list and preparation directions, and the necessary ingredients are all displayed in one location in the store. Simply take a photo of the recipe poster then place the ingredients from the display into your cart. You have all you need to make a new recipe that focuses on high quality nutrition.
- Use the resources on commissaries.com to boost health and wellness. There are many tips, videos, articles and guidelines for healthy living as close at hand as commissaries.com. From brown bag lunch ideas, tips to size up your servings and mastering healthy and flavorful cooking to a tracker to identify your food triggers, the healthy living section is a wealth of knowledge to help you keep on track.
- Follow “Your Commissary” on Pinterest. The Pinterest page will keep you informed about commissary events, nutritious recipes and produce features, special product pricing, deals of the week, new products and commissary brand items and featured YES! (Your Everyday Savings) products just to name a few. It’s a great resource to enhance your commissary benefit.
“We understand how important readiness and resilience is to our military community,” Harris said, “so we strive to offer high performance foods and easy-to-use, quick meal solutions and wellness resources to ensure our patrons meet their health and wellness needs while saving big.”
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.