From the news and television, to Facebook and your friend circles, everyone talks about “eating better.” Buzzwords like “gluten-free,” “balanced diet,” “whole foods” and “organic” are commonly discussed, but much confusion remains. What exactly does “eating better” mean?

In honor of the National Nutrition Month this March, Student Health Services Registered Dietitian Lynne Frichtl wants to clear up some of the confusion and conflicting messages about eating better.

The theme for National Nutrition Month 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” The goal of this campaign is to encourage everyone to take time to enjoy and appreciate the pleasures and social experiences food can add to our lives.

Frichtl suggests that being mindful of our eating patterns is just as important as being mindful of what we eat. “How, when, why, and where we eat are just as important as what we eat. Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well,” she says.

Some eating patterns that Frichtl suggests are adding healthy snacks between meals to prevent getting overly hungry, not eating in front of your favorite television show on Netflix, eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you are full, starting your day with breakfast, and occasionally treating yourself to your favorite snack. “You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, meal, or day of eating. It is what you eat consistently over time that matters. Progress, not perfection, is what counts.”

Frichtl also warns against jumping on “fad diet” bandwagons. Fad diets are weight loss plans that promise dramatic results, but usually don’t translate to long-term weight loss. These fad diets are also often unhealthy and can have negative effects on an individual’s overall wellness. Rather than restricting calories or cutting certain types of food out of your diet altogether, Frichtl suggests achieving a healthy balance is key.

“Instead of focusing on perceived ‘bad’ foods,┬áspend time thinking about how to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins into your day,” Frichtl says. “One way you can do this is to pick up one new fruit, vegetable or whole grain each time you go to the grocery store or dining center. “Once balance is established, weight management and healthy eating habits fall into place.”

Ultimately, a nutritional diet can look different from person to person. For an easy-t0-follow personalized nutrition plan that can meet your individual lifestyle, preferences, restrictions and health related needs, schedule an appointment with Lynne Frichtl online or by calling Student Health Services appointment line at (309) 438-2778. For questions about nutrition and healthy alternatives at the campus dining centers, check out the Campus Dining Services website for more information and to contact the Campus Dining Dietitian Dianne Feasley.