March is National Nutrition Month®, a great time to reflect upon your eating habits and evaluate your food choices. It’s also the perfect time to add some more healthy behaviors to your daily routine. Participate in National Nutrition Month® with these tips to help you savor the flavor of healthy eating!
Drink More Water
Healthy eating isn’t necessarily just about food. Beverage choices can play an important role in creating a healthy meal. You can cut extra calories and sugar out of your day by swapping out those soft drinks and juices for water!
Proper hydration is important to overall health and metabolism regulation, and oftentimes people mistake a thirst cue for hunger. Carrying a water bottle around with you will not only keep your body running properly, but will also prevent you from eating when you’re not hungry.
If you’re still craving the bubbles of soda, seltzer or sparkling water is a great alternative. You can find sparkling water in a variety of flavors to suit any mood or meal.
Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand
Many pre-packaged foods are highly processed, contain little nutritional value, and are loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats, but they’re convenient in a pinch. Make sure you’ve always got healthy snacks on hand so you don’t find yourself at a vending machine choosing between corn chips and candy bars. Bringing your own healthy snacks wherever you go makes healthy eating convenient, and reduces the chance that you’ll give in to eating less nutritious options.
Portion out small baggies of nuts and dried fruit at the beginning of the week, and store them in your car, desk, and bag so you’re never without a healthy food option.
Check Portion Sizes
Proper portion size isn’t intuitive. With restaurant meals being so large and food manufacturers often downplaying the amount of food in a serving, it can be hard to know just how much you’re supposed to eat. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution - grab your measuring cups!
National Nutrition Month® is a great time to start paying attention to just how much you should be eating. A serving of vegetables is about a half cup, or a cup of uncooked greens. Starches, grains, beans and peas can also be measured in half cup servings. After a few weeks of measuring, you’ll be a pro at portions!
Make Vegetables the Star of Your Meals
An easy way to eat healthier is to load your plate up with vegetables. Serve the veggies first and pile them high, aiming to fill half your plate with vegetables before adding protein and starches. Another way to increase your vegetable intake is to eat all of the vegetables on your plate before moving on to the protein and starch. You’ll get more nutrition out of that broccoli than you will out of an extra roll!
Avoid falling into a vegetable rut by setting a goal to try at least one new vegetable per week. This can increase the variety of nutrients in your diet, as well as the excitement of your healthy meals!
Add Seafood to the Mix
Seafood is a great source of nutrients, including anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids! Eating fish twice a week can help you obtain the necessary amounts of this important nutrient. If you’re worried about mercury levels of seafood, remember that smaller fish like sardines have lower levels of mercury than large fish like tuna.
Salmon, trout and oysters are also lower in mercury, and are high in omega-3s. What’s not to love?
Eating dinner while driving, and snacking while watching TV may be convenient, but they’re not the healthiest ways to enjoy a meal. These types of distracted munching can lead to overeating, and misreading hunger cues. You may even train yourself to eat whenever you watch TV without even realizing it!
Instead, sit down at a table to eat, and actively participate in the meal without external distractions. Be sure to chew your food thoroughly, and if you’re eating with your family or friends, engage in conversation between bites. The added time and attention between bites should allow your body to register what you’re eating, so you’ll realize when you’re full sooner.
Spice Up Your Life
Worried that healthy meals won’t be delicious? Adding herbs and spices to your dishes can add extra flavor, without adding sugar, salt, oils or calories. Many herbs and spices also have added antioxidant properties and health benefits. Add dry spices to food at the beginning of cooking, and finish with chopped fresh herbs for maximum flavor!
If you'd like to learn more about healthy eating, read this article!