March marks National Nutrition Month, which can serve as an opportunity for Americans to focus on eating right and developing better diets. The observation occurs around the same time that many people start giving up on their New Year’s resolutions and slowly start slipping back into their bad habits. Instead, they could use this time as a chance to refuel and refocus. 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a great source for tips to get you started on a better and more balanced diet. For starters, the academy advises to eat a healthy breakfast that consists of lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Other important guidelines to follow for healthy eating habits include making sure your plate is half-full with fruits and vegetables, watching portion sizes, eating seafood twice a week, cutting back on sugars and drinking more water.  

GettyImages-97939294 Apples and other fruits should make up part of breakfast, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Photo: Getty Images

Varying your protein routine is essential to a healthy lifestyle, and the academy advises to mix it up with seafood, beans, peas, unsalted nuts and seeds, soy products, eggs, lean meats and poultry. An easy fix to healthier eating is to choose vegetable oils instead of butter and oil-based sauces, and choose fat-free milk and yogurt to cut back on saturated fat.  

If you're strapped for cash, it might be tempting to go the unhealthy route. But eating right doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Purchase foods in bulk — it’s cheaper — and make a large batch by doubling a recipe so that extra portions can be saved for lunches and snacks. Shopping for fruits and vegetables that are in season is a good way to save some money because those foods are typically cheaper, and sometimes canned or frozen produce is less expensive than fresh. Just make sure to look for “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label. 

The internet is full of healthy, delicious recipes that will make eating better less boring. Check out Cooking Light for hundreds of healthy recipes, ranging from chicken dishes to pastas, which may inspire you to make smart nutrition decisions well past the month of March.