March is National Nutrition Month, and as we prepare for warmer weather it is a good time to try to incorporate small, healthy changes into your daily routine. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides education about our diets and advocates sound eating decisions with physical activity habits. Eating foods rich with nutrients is one step closer to health.
Here are some ideas for healthier eating:
- Measure portions. There are snack-sized bags with sizes marked as well as storage/lunch containers and plates pre-measured or with guides of portion sizes per food group.
- Designate half your plate for fruits and vegetables.
- Choose water. Slice your favorite fruit, cucumbers or lemon and make yourself a day’s supply. To find out how much water you should drink, try this: http://www.camelbak.com/hydrationcalculator
- Eat foods from among all food groups.
- Add fiber to your diet. The average American takes in about one-third of the 24-30 gms/day recommended.
- Enjoy more low fat (1%) and fat free dairy products.
- Compare sodium to choose the foods with lower numbers. Sodium can sneak up on us.
With your work schedule and hectic life planning is key. It may not always be possible to stop and access healthy options easily. It is worthwhile to prepare the night before and rinse/wash/pack your meals and snacks into individual servings. The best way to stay on track is to stick to a schedule and listen to your body. Often hunger is mistaken for thirst; having water on hand and drinking it throughout your day can alleviate unwanted cravings.
If you have kids or picky eaters, have fun with it. Let them be a part of the meal and snack planning process. Sometimes presentations of snacks, either using holiday or their favorite characters’ themes and cutting things, arranging multiple colors and incorporating fun will get nutritious choices inside their stomachs.
There are online resources to teach children about the importance of nutrition. Gardening with your child, even if it’s letting them select one vegetable and learn the process, will also instill healthy habits and teach sustainable living.
Undernourishment of vital nutrients can also create unhealthy habits. DairyMax has tools online for childhood nutrition. Breakfast is a vital element of one’s day. Steps to health include starting the day off right with balanced nutrition. There are direct links to breakfast’s effect on students’ performance, even higher test scores, when breakfast is enjoyed. Children learn more, behave better and are absent less according to the Food Research and Action Center. This Wake Up To Breakfast handout has great ideas- leading by example will get your household in the nutritious mindset.
It can be overwhelming to do a kitchen clean sweep, so we challenge you to start making one change per week. If you are doing this with ease, and habits are developing well you can increase to two to three healthy habit additions weekly! Here are a few recipe ideas, thanks to Shape Your Future OK. We are fortunate to have more farmers markets around various neighborhoods. Weekly visits with planned out lists can have your fruits and vegetables stocked up for easier snack and meal preparations.
Whether you inspire yourself, friends, family or co-workers the most important thing is to remember to make informed choices and be educated. The links above will help guide you to a healthier diet.
*We recommend consulting your healthcare provider and discussing your health goals.