March is National Nutrition Month
Emma Falconer Dietetic Intern
MARCH 21, 2016
We all know that a balanced diet and regular exercise are key to a healthy lifestyle. And it’s also true that National Nutrition Month is a great time to start improving your health. But for those looking to make the switch, where do you start? Right here, of course! Check out these five tips to start living a healthier lifestyle today.
The theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Savor the Flavor.” That means it’s important to slowly enjoy your meals. When you eat too fast, or find yourself distracted by the TV, Computer, or phone, you’re likely to eat too much without feeling satisfied. So this month, as busy as you may get, try scheduling at least 15 minutes for each meal. That way you can sit down without distractions and focus on actually enjoying the foods you eat.
Make half of every meal fruits and vegetables
Not only are fruits and vegetables filling and low calorie, they’re also dense in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. For breakfast, try blueberries in cereal or a sliced banana with peanut butter on top of whole grain toast. Carrot sticks go great with lunch. And for dinner, try stir fry with broccoli, bell peppers, and onions. And for those who like to snack between meals, that’s okay, just make delicious, heart-healthy choices like apples, oranges, or almonds. Remember, variety is key! The more colorful your plate, the more key nutrients you’re getting!
Drink more water
Did you know that thirst can be mistaken for hunger? Before reaching for a snack, try drinking a glass of water first. Hydration keeps hunger at bay while also improving energy levels, skin health, and general wellbeing. Aim for around 64 ounces daily — that’s about four average-sized water bottles. To keep track of how much you’re drinking, try adding elastic bands to your water bottle to see how many times you refill.
Check your salt intake
Most Americans consume way too much sodium. And that’s not good. An excess of sodium can cause bloating, high blood pressure, and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, or a little over a teaspoon of salt. Sodium can sneak into your diet in lots of ways, so always check the labels of frozen meals, canned soups, chips, fast food, and deli meats. Also, look for low/no sodium options of your favorite foods, and prepare fresh meals at home as much as possible.
The best way to maintain your healthy eating habits is to plan ahead. If you don’t have time to make breakfast, set aside some yogurt and fruit to bring to work. For lunch, get in the habit of packing your own balanced meal of whole grains, vegetables, and a lean protein source. And to make things easier, chop up vegetables on the weekends to use in dinners all week. It’s important to remember that it’s easier to make nutritious choices when you have healthy foods available.
So this National Nutrition Month, take the time to slow down, savor the flavor, and improve your eating habits. And remember, small changes can lead to big results!