5 HEALTHY WAYS TO CELEBRATE NUTRITION MONTH
March is National Nutrition Month! A great time to re-examine your eating habits and challenge yourself to develop healthier routines. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an organization for registered dietitians, urges us to put an emphasis on smart food choices and expand our palate with new foods and cuisines.
Reversing old habits and modifying your diet can be a slow process. Additionally, making changes toward better nutrition can be a challenge. But don’t put it off!
Here are 5 tips to help get you started this nutrition month.
1. SWAP THIS FOR THAT
Find one or two ways you can make a small change each day. By doing so, you may decrease your calorie consumption and increase your fiber intake. These changes may also improve your cholesterol levels and promote weight loss.
-Swap out whole or 2% milk for 1% or skim.
-Instead of cream cheese use Neufchatel.
-Substitute plain low-fat yogurt for sour cream.
-Swap out oil for applesauce in baked goods.
-Choose whole-grain versions of starches such as bread, pasta.
-Choose quinoa or brown rice in place of white rice.
-Substitute hummus for dips and baby carrots for chips.
-Choose fish in place of meat, at least twice per week.
-Swap legumes for animal proteins.
-Use olive oil in place of other oils in cooking.
2. MAKE HEALTHY SNACKS READILY AVAILABLE.
By planning and preparing in advance, you can fill your pantry and fridge with healthy snacks. Pistachios, in particular, are rich in fiber, minerals, and unsaturated fat. Moreover, they can help keep blood sugars, blood pressure, and cholesterol in check.
The next time you are at the market, look for some of these easy-to-grab goodies.
-Sesame or pumpkin seeds
-Lightly buttered popcorn
-Green pea snack chips
3. EAT MORE PLANT PROTEINS THIS NUTRITION MONTH
A plant-based diet is one of the healthiest ways to eat, Research suggests eating less meat promotes longevity, helps lower cholesterol, and reduces the incidences of diabetes and cancer. Start by including one or two meatless meals per week.
However, not all plant proteins are complete. In other words, they lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids. Yet, with smart combinations that complement each other, complete proteins can be achieved.
For example, combine:-Whole wheat toast with nut butter -Beans and rice -Lentil soup with a whole grain roll -Pita chips and hummus -Spinach salad with sunflower seeds
Or try these plant proteins that are complete by themselves:
While plant-based eating is not intended to be a weight loss diet, many find that they lose weight when they decrease their meat intake. Plant proteins are lower in fat and therefore lower in calories. Additionally, plant proteins are higher in fiber and promote healthy gut function. Research finds diets that are rich in plant foods, result in reduced levels of unhealthy inflammation.
4. CHALLENGE YOURSELF TO TRY A NEW FOOD OR CUISINE
Many of us are “variety challenged”. In other words, we tend to eat the same foods over and over. Challenge yourself this month to expand your palate and experiment with new and different foods.
Trying new foods has its benefits. It not only increases variety but may also provide alternate nutrients, and compounds such as polyphenols, soluble fiber, and probiotics. These combat cell damage and lower the risk for disease.
Consider giving a vegetable you don’t like a second chance. For example, try preparing it in a new way. Add your favorite herbs or seasonings. Pair it with a food you like or bake it into a muffin or bread.
Or give some of these 2021 food trends a try. :
-Kombucha, a fermented drink that provides probiotics for gut health
-Aronia berries, a powerful superfood, rich in anti-oxidants
-Hearts of Palm Linguine or lentil pasta, lower-calorie, and higher fiber pasta options
-Cauliflower rice, a lower calorie rice substitute
-Fruit and veggie jerky, a healthier version of meat jerky
-Plant-based burgers, a meatless way to have a burger, lower in fat and higher in fiber
5. GET THE FAMILY INVOLVED FOR NUTRITION MONTH
Busy schedules and extracurriculars had us eating out more and consequently grabbing quick meals. Why not take advantage of our current need to be at home, and get the family involved in planning and preparing meals.
Getting children involved in nutrition early, can establish wholesome eating habits for their future. Additionally, setting a good example helps them learn and establish a healthy dietary pattern from the start.
Poor diets in children, along with inadequate physical activity, lead to obesity and increase their risk of diabetes and heart disease. Consequently, in the United States, 41% of children and adolescents are overweight or have obesity.
TRY ONE OF THESE IDEAS EACH WEEK:
-Have the family plan a meal. Set the theme, such as “Mexican”. Assign each family member to choose either the vegetable, the protein, or the starch, and give them a list of options. This is a great opportunity for learning which foods make up each food group. When it comes time for preparing the meal, have older children help with chopping or peeling. Younger children can help wash or stir and mix.
-Pick a favorite dessert and modify the recipe. For example, instead of making brownies from a mix, make them from scratch. Look for a recipe that uses cocoa powder for the chocolate or one that substitutes applesauce for the oil. Additionally, adding nuts or berries will increase fiber.
-Have a salad bar night. Colorful fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals as well as other healthy compounds. Stress the benefits of “eating the rainbow” and have each family member choose two fruits or vegetables of each color. For example, red cherry tomatoes and red onion. Or blueberries and purple cabbage. Add these to a bowl of mixed greens and include some chickpeas or shredded cheese and croutons.
–Have breakfast for dinner. Let the family decide on the theme, for example, waffles, pancakes, eggs, etc. Then choose ways to make it healthy such as adding berries to the pancakes or cut-up vegetables with eggs. Additionally, try chopped apples or almonds added to oatmeal or peanut butter and banana with toast.
Finally, let Nutrition Month be a reason to get started on making healthy choices in both what you eat and what you avoid. But don’t let it stop there. Let it be a springboard for your future way of eating.
A registered dietitian can help you make these changes by providing advice on how to adapt these to your lifestyle and special dietary needs. Our experienced clinicians are experts and are able to provide you with the guidance you need to be successful.
Call to make an appointment today. Many of our services are covered by insurance. (240) 449-3094