By Elizabeth Owens, M.S., CNS, LDN, Manager of Experiential Programs at MUIH
March is National Nutrition Month and while it’s best to focus on eating healthy all year round, take some extra time this month to dedicate to good nutrition! Here are three ways to help you get started on healthier eating habits!
1. Drink more water, not calories. What’s in your cup? Avoid sweetened beverages, including those with artificial sweeteners, as well as juices and sodas. These drinks contribute to calorie intake and provide little to no nutrients and a lot of sugar! Water is important to support your cellular function, including detoxification and hydrating your skin. Water is necessary for every function in the body! So grab a water bottle, preferably stainless steel or glass, and aim to drink 8 cups a day. Your individual needs vary, so consult a Certified Nutrition Specialist or Registered Dietician to determine the appropriate amount for you!
2. Eat less sugar, enjoy more fat. Contrary to what we were told over a decade ago, we now know that eating fat is good for us and sugar is what we need to avoid! Start reading labels to see how much Added Sugar is in some of your favorite foods. You may be surprised to learn that your daily bowl of cereal or that blueberry muffin you get with your coffee contain as much sugar as ice cream! By decreasing Added Sugar to less than 30 grams a day, you are taking a big step in reducing your risk for chronic disease and weight gain. When those sugar cravings come, opt for fat-rich food instead which will promote satiety. Fat can be a source of energy, it is important for cell function, absorbing certain nutrients and producing important hormones. Avocado with sea salt, nuts and seeds, and hummus served with a veggie are a few of my favorite fat-rich snacks!
3. Fill your plate with color. Phytonutrients give plant food that beautiful, radiant color as well as provide many protective properties. These healing compounds are helpful for blood sugar regulation, cholesterol, and blood pressure, to name a few. Aim to “eat the rainbow” each day by choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables from the different colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue-purple, and tan-white). Soups and salads are great ways to get lots of color in one meal!
Making small changes can have a big impact on your health. As Dr. Mark Hyman says, “we can reclaim our health, one forkful at a time.” What will be on your fork today?