March is National Nutrition Month and it's time to celebrate not just this month but all year round! I strongly believe that proper nutrition habits start young. When our children learn to choose fruits and vegetables early, they are more likely to carry those important habits throughout their lifetimes!
Nutrition is something that is important year round, and something that most of us probably take for granted! With an overwhelming variety of instant food options and advertisement constantly bombarding us, proper nutrition may not always be on the top of our priority list, especially when we are in a hurry! While it’s okay to indulge every once in a while (ice cream is one of my favorites), we want to make sure we take everything in moderation, even during our busy, hectic lives. Healthy living and eating habits have played a role in my life for as long as I can remember as a Type 1 Diabetic but, I’m far from perfect! Throughout the process of preparing for Miss America, I learned that I needed to place emphasis on the balance of nutrition and exercise in my life, and listen to my body most of all! It was amazing how much better I felt when I fueled my workouts with the proteins and carbohydrates that boosted and maintained my blood sugar at the correct levels.
As Miss Wyoming 2017, I’ve had the privilege to work with a variety of organizations that focus on nutrition for all as a top priority, especially with our younger generations! I strongly believe that proper nutrition habits start young. When our children learn to choose fruits and vegetables in elementary school and before, they are more likely to carry those habits throughout their lifetimes! In the school district where I grew up, I was lucky to have a program with a salad and fruit bar provided along with our lunches every day. Unlike most school lunches, which are limited in quantity and lacking in true nutrition, we were able to visit the salad bar and take as much as we wanted each day, leaving all of us students full and ready to learn. Now, when I go back and visit schools across my state as Miss Wyoming, I have been pleasantly surprised to learn that the salad bar is most students’ favorite part of lunch! When I ask for the names of a few of their favorite fruits and vegetables, the room erupts in a loud chaotic roar of “Oranges! Bananas! Watermelons! Carrots!” I’ve even gotten “Eggplants!” a few times…to each their own!
Even before I won my state title, I began working in my community to nourish our future generations and encourage them to develop healthy lifestyle habits. Through my college, I took an internship with an organization called the Food Group. In my small town of about 18,000 people, the Food Group provides weekend food packs to 500+ students every week! It is an entirely anonymous program where need is never questioned and bags are placed in student’s lockers by maintenance crews each Thursday evening. Many of us forget how blessed we are to have fresh food in our fridges and cabinets each day. It enables us to function with zest and energy, as well as nourishes our brains so that we are able to accomplish tasks such as computing, learning, and memorizing. I find this to be particularly essential for our younger students, who need to come to school every morning ready and able to engage in class. I encourage you, if there are backpack or school breakfast programs in your area to consider volunteering with them.
I’ve absolutely loved joining my school tour as Miss Wyoming with the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope and Hoops for Heart initiatives this spring. It’s allowed me to visit schools all across Wyoming, from our remote tiny communities to our slightly larger cities. In each school, I’ve had the opportunity to touch tiny lives by encouraging them to engage in healthy habits, a task that is made all the more fun by my Scare Squad monsters from Jump Rope for Heart. I have to admit that my favorite monster is probably Finster, who tells the students to drink water instead of sugar-loaded beverages like soda or some juices! However, Blaster also helps me out by blasting through sodium and reducing it in his diet- pizza is okay, but in moderation! Finally, my friend Disco reminds everyone to load up their plates with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables every day at lunch- you should be able to “taste the rainbow!”
Regardless of our financial or economic situations, we should never take nutrition for granted! When proper nutrition and exercise habits are incorporated into a young individual’s life, they are far less likely to encounter health issues such as heart disease or diabetes in their lifetime. Do your part to take care of your body and serve as a positive role model for younger generations today by incorporating nutrition into your quest for a healthy heart! Try choosing water over sugary beverages, getting 60 minutes of activity every day, reducing sodium in your diet, and coloring your plate with fruits and veggies!
Today I also challenge you to join me by getting involved with the lifesaving advocacy work of the American Heart Association. Add your voice by simply texting HEART to 46839 right now or visit yourethecure.org/join. It only takes a few moments, and you will be part of a powerful movement to save lives. Remember, “You’re the Cure, WY!”
Forever your Miss Wyoming 2017 and AHA Advocate,