“I have participated in several New American Place Challenges and each time I learn more and incorporate the info into my daily life. Thank you for your valuable information, encouragement and unconditional support. This is an awesome program!”
This message is music to my dietitian ears. It comes from one of the participants of AICR’s 12-week healthy weight program.
As one of the NAP Challenge coaches, I hear firsthand how our challengers are embracing an eating style that focuses on plant foods, cooking, and becoming more physically active with dedicated daily walks and breaks between long periods of sitting.
The NAP Challenge has an online forum (on Facebook) where challengers share their successes, struggles, and strategies for getting to and sustaining a healthy, happy weight. The research is clear that engagement with a supportive community and guidance by health professionals greatly enhances meeting health goals. I am thrilled to have this online connection with our challengers that provides vital community and coaching.
I get to hear how individuals successfully turn the 12 weekly challenges into positive lifestyle habits for weight loss, cancer prevention, cancer survivorship support, and improvement of their health.
A recent government report found that less than 25 percent of Americans eat the recommended amounts of vegetables and fruit. That means 75 percent of people are NOT getting optimal amounts of cancer-protective, health-promoting natural plant compounds (phytonutrients), vitamins, minerals, and fiber. That’s where the NAP Challenge and its community come in.
Participants have commented that our fun challenges teach them to boost their families’ and their intake of vegetables and fruit as well as whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. We guide challengers to make small shifts in their diet and activity, so over time they have embraced eating and activity patterns that sustain good health.
“NAP addresses the whole picture of a healthy lifestyle. It is not a diet but a lifestyle change.” said one challenger
I am inspired when I see challengers encourage one another with their posted photos of colorful plates of vegetable-enriched mixed dishes such as pizza, sandwiches, soups, and casseroles. As The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion reported, adding vegetables to mixed dishes such as these are opportunities to shift toward a healthier eating pattern.
The photos and comments also tell how individuals replace refined grains with whole grains, and use lesser amounts of meat, cheese and salt in recipes.
They share successful weight loss just by shifting from sugar-laden beverages to plain or citrus infused water, sparkling water, tea, coffee and reduced-fat milk.
I really get a kick when I see pictures posted of fitness tracker and pedometer readings. Last year, a challenger who was post treatment for cancer shared that she had increased her steps beyond the 10,000-step goal and felt better. Studies show that physical activity can enhance survivors’ health and increases energy. She’s proof of it.
Whether for weight loss or maintenance, I hope you will join our NAP community for edifying, encouraging and educational exchanges.
The NAP Challenge starts today – sign up here (its free!).
Dori Mitchell, MS, RDN, is AICR’s coordinator for nutrition outreach. As a nutrition consultant, she developed with AICR the online and classroom versions of the New American Plate Challenge and enjoys coaching challengers on NAP Facebook. Dori enjoys keeping abreast of nutrition research and food trends to create educational programs and delicious recipes for optimal health.