March is National Nutrition Month, a campaign which encourages everyone to take time to appreciate what eating healthy foods can do to add to our lives. For some people thinking about healthy eating feels burdensome because the concept is confusing or new to them. Making healthy eating a habit is easier than you may think. And believe it or not, small changes can make a big difference. As we move into March, I challenge you to incorporate at least half of the items below into your diet. It simplifies things when we focus more on what we get to eat rather than the myriad of things we must avoid. Who knows, as you focus on integrating these yummy essentials into your meals and snacks each day, they may become life-long, easy habits!
- Eat a healthy variety of lean protein foods: Seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, nuts, and seeds are excellent choices. If you are eating ground beef, turkey breast, or chicken breast, choose leaner cuts.
- Make at least half of your plate fruits and vegetables: Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower, along with other vegetables for your meals. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs for health.
- If you are eating dairy products, try to focus more on adding cultured dairy products like low-fat yogurts, kefir, sour cream into your day. Cultured dairy digests better by adding important probiotics into the gut. A healthy gut that has a rich pro-biotic and pre-biotic environment is critical to ideal digestion and healthy weight. Putting a couple of dollops of low-fat sour cream into your black bean soup is the perfect way to make it delicious AND get those valuable cultures. Dannon’s Oikos Triple Zero greek yogurt is a fabulous option to get high protein, gut-nourishing probiotics, and great taste which comes from the Stevia sweetening they use. All this healthiness and NO added sugar!
- We’ve talked about whole grains but let’s get more creative in our whole-grain eating. Check labels for a higher protein, higher fiber content in your grains. For breads–think whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal, and rolled oats. For rice dishes think quinoa or wild rice. Love pasta? You can find edamame pasta online that has a whopping 25 grams of protein per serving and tastes amazing! There are also higher protein pastas that are made with Lentil flour or split pea flour. All super healthy choices that beat refined-grain foods with low fiber and protein content.Your pallet will love these new tastes and textures and you’ll thank yourself as you see the health benefits now and in your future!
- Salt. Is it good or bad? It can be both. We need salt to keep healthy electrolyte balance but too much can be dangerous for those prone to high blood pressure. Conversely, those with low blood pressure are often told by their doctors to increase salt intake. Keep a close relationship with your doc so you know your typical vital signs and how to stay balanced. When you do use salt use a natural sea salt or pink Himalayan sea salt, complete with other minerals your body needs.
- Water up. Challenge yourself to drink water as your main beverages. Use water in different forms with a different twist to keep it interesting. Add a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon, for a refreshing still water drink. For sparking versions add your liquid flavored stevia for a fun satisfying thirst quencher. My favorite flavor is root beer. All the fun with no negative health impact!
Remember that how, when, why, and where we eat are just as important as what we eat. Develop a healthy eating pattern that includes nutritious, healthy, foods and your body will thank you for years to come.
If you would like to get your community involved in March National Nutrition Month, here are some great ideas: 36 Ideas to Get Involved.
Have a great Skinny Life day!