We’re well into 2016, so how are you doing with your resolutions? Fear not! National Nutrition Month is here to give you a boost. All March long, we celebrate healthy eating, not just to lose weight, but to live well and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.
The theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which created the annual celebration, chose this theme to encourage everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives. We can do this while making informed decisions about what and how much we eat.
The word “diet” makes most people cringe because it is often associated with a way of eating that includes eliminating your favorite foods. But “diet” is a more general term, including everything you eat, when you eat it, how much you eat and how you prepare it. So when your doctor recommends a healthy diet, don’t freak out. It’s easier than you think. A few different food choices can make a big impact.
The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition agrees. The Council says small changes can make a big difference to your health. They offer eight healthy eating goals and suggest you try incorporating at least six of them into your diet.1 These tips can help rejuvenate your New Year’s resolution to eat better – and maybe you’ll lose some weight in the process.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables – Choose a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. The more color on your plate, the better.
- Make half the grains you eat whole grains – Choose whole-wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, oats and brown rice for the best nutrition. Check the food label. The first ingredient should be “whole grain” or “whole wheat.”
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk – If you can’t hack lactose, try calcium-fortified soy beverages.
- Choose healthy protein sources such as lean meats and poultry, beans and peas, eggs, nuts and seeds.
- Compare sodium in foods and choose the lower sodium versions.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks such as sweetened soda, energy drinks and sports drinks.
- Try adding some seafood to the menu – Seafood has protein, minerals and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Cut back on solid fats such as cakes, cookies and other desserts that contains butter, margarine or shortening, and processed fatty meats such as sausages and bacon.
Eating healthier is a good first step, but you can go even further if you add physical activity to your improved meal plan. We’ve all heard the recommendations: 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. With the combination of a healthy diet and regular activity, you can not only lose or maintain weight, you also can reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. Good deal!
Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you love to eat. If you make a few changes to your food choices, you can still do as the theme of National Nutrition Month 2016 suggests, “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.”