9 Tips to Eat Healthier this National Nutrition Month
March is National Nutrition Month – a time to spread awareness of the importance of practicing good nutrition to maintain and improve your overall health. Sticking to a healthy diet helps stave off heart disease, prevent cancer, boost bone health, and increase energy.
Eating healthy is not necessarily about harshly restricting your calories, depriving yourself of the foods you love, or eating bland, tasteless food. It’s about choosing nutrient-dense foods rather than those filled with empty calories and making sure to eat a balanced, properly portioned diet. “Eating the same foods all the time limits the body’s ability to heal itself,” said Carolyn McAdams RDN, CSG, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Christian Health. “Increasing the variety of foods that you consume will help to improve your nutritional status.”
If you find yourself struggling to make consistent, nutritious choices when it comes to what’s on your plate, check out these 9 easy tips to eat smarter and healthier – this month and beyond!
Eat more fruits and veggies
Eating plenty of nutritious fruits and vegetables with each meal is essential for good health. Strive to fill half your plate with various fruits and vegetables to add vibrant colors, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals to your daily meals. Check out local farmers markets for fresh seasonal choices, but there’s no shame in stocking up on frozen and canned options as well!
Watch your portions
Many of us don’t even realize when we are overeating. It’s easy to overestimate how hungry we are, then eat more than necessary in order to avoid it going to waste. Try using some measuring cups and a scale to more-accurately portion your food to the appropriate serving size. This can help you reduce food waste, as well!
Read the labels
Reading the nutrition facts can help you determine your portion sizes, make sure you are getting a balanced amount of fat, carbs, and protein, and keep your sodium and cholesterol in check. Reading the ingredients list is also important – it’s always best to choose foods that are less processed and not full of additives.
Do you often get hungry between meals? Snacking isn’t the enemy of a healthy diet! Choosing nutritious snacks can help keep you satisfied and sustain your energy between meals. Healthy snack options include nuts, an apple with peanut butter, carrots or celery with hummus, and fresh fruit.
Try cooking at home more
The convenience of takeout or frozen, ready-to-go meals can be tempting, but preparing your own food is usually a much healthier option. Many premade meals are full of unhealthy ingredients and preservatives or are cooked in unhealthy oils. Cooking at home gives you control of the preparation – you can measure your portions, use healthy cooking oils (like olive oil or grassfed butter), and use flavorful seasonings to enhance your meal rather than the excessive sugar and salt often added to fast or frozen foods.
Try plant based
Eating meatless just one day a week can decrease your chances of developing things like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Substitute your meat for vegetables, beans, and lentils – if you are not used to preparing vegetarian dishes, try a cookbook to learn some interesting new preparation methods and dishes. Also, get creative with seasonings – even if you’re not the biggest fan of vegetables, the right combination of spices can make anything taste better!
Drink more water
Water is vital to a healthy body – it keeps your organs functioning, digestion regular, and skin glowing. If you struggle to drink enough water every day, get a refillable bottle and establish goals to refill it a certain amount of times each day to ensure you are getting the recommended amount of daily water. While medical recommendations for daily water intake vary depending on your age, sex, activity level, and other factors, many experts suggest aiming for approximately eight 8-ounce glasses per day, or 64 ounces.
Try new things
Eating healthy can often feel restrictive and boring. To keep from getting burnt out when making healthier choices, try experimenting with new foods, like an herb you have never tried or an exotic vegetable. Cookbooks and online recipes can also help you get inspired to try new meals.
Be environmentally friendly
While taking care of your health is important, supporting the health of our planet is crucial, too! Make an effort to shop more sustainably by selecting more seasonal produce, visiting small, local grocers and farmers markets, and opting for pastured-raised, free-range meats, dairy, and eggs rather than factory farmed.