Many of us start the year with resolutions to eat better and exercise more. But during the long winter months of January and February, it’s easy to let those goals slip. Maybe it’s a hibernation instinct or simply a lack of Vitamin D, but the short days and cold weather lead us straight to Netflix and comfort foods. Luckily, March is here! Let’s welcome the first signs of spring with a commitment to healthier food and exercise choices.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month in March each year. For 2017, their theme is “put your best fork forward”, reminding us that every bite counts. Eating better doesn’t have to mean a complete dietary overhaul; it’s ok to start small. Consider trading that soda for a sparkling water. Switch from refined flours to whole grains. Little shifts in your diet can pay off big for your health.
March into health with these simple nutrition tips:
- Emphasize Fruits & Veggies.
Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal. Fresh produce is full of nutrients, vitamins and fiber and it’s easy to incorporate into your diet.
- Keep portions under control.
How much food you eat is just as important as what you eat. Consider your age and weight to determine a healthy amount of daily calories to aim for. Be mindful of your portion sizes and keep track of just how many calories you’re consuming. Many foods provide more than you think!
- Limit salt and added sugars.
According to the CDC, about 90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet! To cut back on salt, choose fresh foods, cook at home more often and minimize processed foods like cheese, cured meats and canned soups.
Added sugars are another huge contributor to our country’s obesity epidemic. Added sugars increase calories without providing any nutritional value! By reducing the amount of added sugars in your diet, you can improve your heart health and control your weight. The American Heart Association lists major sources of added sugars in American diets as: regular soft drinks, sugars, candy, cakes, cookies, pies and fruit drinks; dairy desserts and milk products (ice cream, sweetened yogurt and sweetened milk); and other grains (cinnamon toast and honey-nut waffles). Be aware of this and try to cut back on the sweets, eat fruit instead or make your own homemade version with less sugar.
We hope these tips help you lead a more nutritious lifestyle! Continue educating yourself on what makes a healthy diet and encourage those around you to do so as well.