5 Steps to a Healthier You by Sarah
Happy National Nutrition Month and Happy Women’s History Month!
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month and teaches us to “Go Further With Food” by planning ahead, choosing healthy options, and reducing food waste. This theme really encompasses nutrition as a whole; because it reminds us that the foods we eat makes a large impact on our lives and our community. Whether you are choosing a dinner to make for your family, going out to eat on your lunch break, or shopping at your local farmer’s market, food is the focal point when it comes to living a healthy, balanced life. National Nutrition Month is the perfect time to start thinking of ways you can make smarter food choices. Today, I wanted to share some tips to help YOU go further with food through balanced, sustainable practices.
1. Choose Variety
I am talking about a variety of food groups as well as foods within those groups. We often promote “eating the rainbow” when we talk about fruits and vegetables, but it is important to incorporate that mindset when eating any food group. Why is this important? A variety of food allows for a variety of nutrients. Not all foods contain the same vitamins and minerals that are essential for our overall health. Focusing on variety ensures you are getting those nutrients you may otherwise be lacking in.
2. Plan Ahead
Have you ever had one of days where you can’t decide what you want to eat; and you have nothing in your house, so you end up in a fast food drive-thru? Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there! Planning ahead for the week can make meal-time a much smoother process. Choose what you want to make, get everything at the grocery store all at once at the beginning of the week, and spend some time cutting and prepping food to have ready to either grab and eat on the go, or quickly cook! Meal prepping is a great way to maintain better eating habits and can help you healthier options over drive-thru french fries!
3. Swap out your pop and juice for water
Pop and juice, although they may be yummy tasting, are full of sugar and empty calories. There are no essential nutrients in pop and although juice does have some vitamins, eating whole fruits is a much better option! Many people already do not get enough water throughout the day, so swapping out some other beverages for water can help ensure hydration! Minimum recommendation for water is 2,000ml (2 liters) per day. The best way to remember to drink water is to have a water bottle with you at all times and sip it all throughout the day! If you are not a fan of regular water, try adding fresh fruit slices to it for extra flavor.
4. Pay attention to portion sizes
Have you ever heard “your eyes are bigger than your stomach?” Sometimes it’s easy to make or order way more food than we want or can eat! Become familiar with portion sizes to help keep you from overeating. This chart can help you with some everyday portion sizes! Another great visual to use when checking portion sizes, is USDA’s ChooseMyPlate. They recommend ½ your plate being filled with fruits and veggies, ¼ of your plate being filled with whole grains, and ¼ of your plate being filled with a lean meat or other protein source. Try using MyPlate with your kids and let them put together a healthy nutritious meal to match the picture!
5. When in doubt, snack on fruits and veggies
It’s very easy to go for pre-packaged, high calorie options when we are hungry. These foods are often high in sodium and sugar, and low in fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables are a great option here! Less than 20% of Americans consume enough vegetables everyday. We can improve this number, as well as increase our fiber, vitamin, and mineral intake by swapping out bags of chips and pretzels for fruits and vegetables!
Nutrition can seem extremely complicated at first. However, it doesn’t have to be rocket science! Start with these 5 tips to help push you in the right direction. Small steps add up and make for an overall healthier lifestyle.
If you need help promoting healthy eating in the household, Empowered and Poised is a great program to get your daughters started in! Not only will they learn fun ways to incorporate more nutritious foods into their meals and snacks, but they will also learn the benefits of being active and living balanced, healthy lives.
About the expert: Sarah Radcliff
Sarah has a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition and is currently working on her graduate degree in nutrition. She is also completing her dietetic internship that will allow her to sit for the registered dietitian exam in Summer of 2019! To read more from Sarah check out www.bodytalknutrition.com.