Celebrating Nutrition Beyond the Table 

By Sarah VanEerden, RDN

Tips to take nutrition with you no matter what your day holds 

Nutrition happens at the dinner table, but it also happens at the office, sporting events, restaurants and on the train. National Nutrition Month 2024 celebrates healthy food choices Beyond the Table. Food really is all around us, and when we’re conscious about our choices we can reach our nutrition goals and impact the health of our bodies.

At School  

Research shows we learn best when we’re fed, and that includes breakfast, quality snacks and lunch for the school day. Packing easy, nutritious foods to grab and get out the door takes a bit of planning but is well worth it in the end. Pre-portion vegetables or whole grain crackers in containers to enjoy with hummus, slices of cheese or an herb and garlic yogurt dip. Create a “sandwich bin” in the refrigerator with wraps, spinach, hummus or low-sodium deli meat, slices of cheese and cut peppers for an easy way to whip up lunch before heading out the door. For emergencies, stash nuts, dried fruit or whole food bars in every backpack in case hunger strikes mid-class.  

At Work 

Fueling your workday can literally be an extension beyond your dinner table. Planning meals that create leftovers, and packing them in single servings right away, can ease your work week meal plan. Not a fan of leftovers? No problem. Create dishes with shared ingredients that can cover both dinner and lunch the next day. Try stir fry, then a chopped salad with chickpeas, edamame and ginger dressing. Turn taco Tuesday into quinoa taco bowls on Wednesday.  

In Social Settings 

Birthdays, congratulatory dinners, Saturday tailgates and nights out with friends all have one thing in common – they usually include food. There’s no need to avoid these situations to stick to your wellness goals. Weave your plans into your health and wellness approach when possible. Try bringing a new, cold grainy salad to your next potluck. Start a recipe swap with friends. Bring hearty Caesar wraps to a picnic or try cut celery in a spicy buffalo chicken dip made with yogurt.  

Dining Out 

There are special tips to help you nourish your body as you dine out. Restaurant meals can be surprisingly high in sodium and large in portion sizes. Establishments with 20 locations or more are required to have nutrition information available for your use, and many local eateries choose to have them as well. If it helps you, look at the menu and nutrition information ahead of time and aim to find something that will energize you and taste great. Or, when you’re browsing the menu, look for vegetable-heavy options like stir-fries, grain bowls, hearty salads, wraps and seafood dishes.  

While it’s not necessary to make the perfect nutritious choice every single time you’re out and about, Americans tend to live life on-the-go and prioritizing nutrition away from the home and the dinner table is a must. With a bit of planning, intentional choice-making and some creative socializing, you can celebrate nutrition beyond the table every day.  


So often, our schedules don’t align with the standard three meals per day, and we find ourselves eating on- the -go and at restaurants. Plan ahead to take your nutrition beyond in the best way possible. Between meals? Grab dried fruit with no added sugar and nuts to stash in your bag. Dining out for a meal? Look at the menu ahead of time and choose options with lean proteins and plenty of vegetables. If you’re truly in a bind for a balanced snack, gas station convenience stores usually stash fresh fruit, trail mix, yogurt, cheese sticks or granola bars with real ingredients like oats, nuts and dates.   

Need fresh ideas to carry with you on-the-go? Try these Next-Level Snack Boxes from Vitality Kitchen. 

Sarah Van Eerden - Vitality

Sarah VanEerden is a Registered Dietitian and a Marketing Specialist with Vitality. She earned her B.S. at Michigan State University and has a passion for making the healthy choice the easy choice. She’s an experimental cook and a terrible baker, and she loves diving into home improvement projects and music in her free time.

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