Following in the footsteps of the American Heart Association’s heart health month in February, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the largest Dietitian organization) has dubbed March as National Nutrition Month. Each year, the Academy comes up with a creative theme; this year it is “eat right, your way, every day”. The message is that no one eating plan is perfect for everyone – it should be personalized to you! For example, a vegan diet is not for everyone; neither is the diet of a 230 lb football player. Consult with a dietitian to find out the best diet pattern to suit you. To get started, here are a few tips that I use for my personal healthy eating style!
1. Always eat breakfast! It is so important to give your metabolism a jump start. Plus, when you include breakfast, it is so much easier to fit in your 2-3 servings of dairy and 3-5 servings of fruit daily. Some typical breakfast ideas for me? Oatmeal with apples and cinnamon, toast with nut butter and sliced banana, yogurt with blueberries and granola, or a fruit smoothie.
2. Follow the MyPlate method for planning meals. I love how simple this makes the process of figuring out what to eat! At meals, fill at least half of your plate with vegetables, a quarter with starch, and a quarter with a protein food. Check out www.choosemyplate.gov for great meal planning ideas and recipes.
3. Make your meals colorful! A colorful plate is not only more appetizing, but it offers more nutrients! Colorful foods often contain a lot more antioxidants which are compounds famous for their disease fighting abilities.
4. Choose snacks carefully. A snack that incorporates both protein and carbohydrates will be much more satisfying than one that is mainly carbohydrates and fat (ie. chocolate or potato chips). My snack of choice is an apple with a tablespoon of nut butter but there are so many other options too! For example: hummus and fresh vegetables, cheese stick and whole wheat crackers, yogurt and a banana, a handful of trail mix, or even a small latte.
5. If you are often busy or on-the-go, prepare your meals ahead of time. Take an hour or two on the weekend to prepare some meals or chop vegetables so to make healthy eating throughout the week easy. Check out the Lean Green Bean’s blog for great weekly meal preparation tips!
6. Don’t fall into “the cafeteria/food court at work doesn’t have healthy options” trap. A great way to save money and your waistline is to pack your lunch for work everyday! With just a few minutes of preparation the night before, all you’ll have to do is grab your lunch on the way out the door in the morning. I would often make a little extra food at dinner the night before and pack the leftovers for lunch the next day. Salads are also an easy and healthy lunch idea; just make sure to add some healthy fat (nuts, dressing, avocados) and a protein (chicken, tuna, tofu, nuts, cheese) to your salad to make it more satisfying.
7. Go meatless one day a week. The #MeatlessMonday movement is a great idea! Numerous studies have shown that limiting your consumption of red meat can have health benefits. Plus, people who follow a vegetarian diet often eat more vegetables and everyone knows those are great for you! Check out the Meatless Monday website for great vegetarian meal ideas.
Make sure to check out the National Nutrition Month website for more great tips! You can also follow @eatright on twitter or join the conversation #NNM! Don’t wait any longer to “eat right, your way, every day”!