March is National Nutrition Month, sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The whole month focuses on education and helping make healthy food choices and develop good eating and physical activity habits.
Fad diets and other “healthy” recommendations can be found all over the internet. The amount of information about being ‘healthy’ can be overwhelming and, importantly, is not always correct.
Research has shown that starting slow and making small changes is the most successful long term strategy for healthy changes.
Looking to make a change towards a healthier you? Good for you! National Nutrition Month is the perfect time to begin and this list of small changes will help you start to reach your nutritional and fitness goals.
- Eat breakfast. Eating in the morning can boost your metabolism for the rest of the day, helping maintain a healthy weight. Also, people who eat breakfast tend to make healthier eating choices throughout the day and reduce the chance of the mid-afternoon slump. Here are some healthy recommendations for breakfast on the go.
- Eat smaller, nutritious meals more frequently. With all the fast food options and processed food that are available today, it’s easy to overeat and not realize it. In fact, many people eat two meals a day and intake over 2,000 calories without ever realizing it. Most of these calories are empty, leaving people to reach for something sugary mid-day to tide them over. Instead, eat 4-6 small nutrient-rich meals per day, giving you steady blood sugar level all day, reducing the mid-day slump while taking in less calories. This can be very easy (grab a yogurt and an apple!) but also can include a bit of planning for a great variety of options. Trust us, the results will be well worth the effort.
- Substitute simple carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates– Simple carbohydrates like pasta, white rice, crackers, cookies, and white bread can cause sugar spikes and not provide much nutrition. A simple nutrition trick is to replace these with whole grain pasta, brown rice or quinoa, fruits and veggies, and legumes like beans or lentils.
- Drink water instead of sugar filled drinks. Fifty-seven percent of the human body is made of water! Staying hydrated regulates your body fluids, helps you to feel full, and maintains healthy skin, kidneys, and bowel function. Sugary drinks tend to be high in calories, are linked to struggles with obesity, and cause tooth decay, dehydration and can even affect your sleep patterns. Not a big fan of plain water? Here are a few ways to liven up your water.
- Get up and move! For at least 10 minutes a day. Yep, fitness is important to nutrition! They work together toward health. While you should ultimately aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, start small. Start with baby steps and 10 minutes each day. There are several options, from taking a walk to a quick swim, play with the kids, or even clean the house vigorously (clean and healthy at the same time!) . Here are a few more ways to increase your physical activity.
- Stretch. Stretching not only feels great, it can help relieve chronic pain, protect joints and maintain your range of movement as you age. It can also give you a few moments to clear your head and reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Try some of these stretches you can do at home or work.
Have additional suggestions or questions for National Nutrition Month and staying healthy? Please leave a comment sharing your healthy successes, suggestions or questions below.