Ever feel like you’re not in control of your diet? Maybe you don’t know what healthy foods to eat, what to pair with what, or maybe you just have a hard time with self-control. Either way, we’ve all been there! Most people, in some way, have struggled with their relationship with food and the use of food. Whether it’s using it as a way to cope with stress, to suppress emotions, or to control your body when you’ve lost control in all other aspects of your life – creating a positive relationship with food is vital to prevent the onset of many chronic diseases and living a long, healthy life for years to come.
So, since March is National Nutrition Month, we decided – what better way to celebrate and spread awareness around the importance of nutrition than now? We’ll be giving you some tips you can start implementing in your daily lives, ways to achieve your goals, and how you can start incorporating healthy habits with food, today.
Food is a means to nourish your body so you can live a long, healthy life and use your body the way it was designed. Adopt a healthy relationship with food with these 10 tips!
Tip #1: Eat Breakfast
We know what you’re thinking, “Wow, this is the first tip? I already know that…” But, are you starting your morning off with a healthy breakfast? While sugary cereal or biscuits from McDonald’s in the morning may “act” as breakfast, your body’s first meal of the day needs a powerful and healthy kickstart. It’s important that your breakfast includes lean protein, whole grains, and a combination of both fruits and vegetables! Maybe try some scrambled eggs with turkey bacon and a piece of whole-grain toast. If you’re not an egg lover, try some low-fat plain yogurt with whole-grain cereal (or granola) and some fruit.
Tip #2: Keep Those Tempting Foods Out of Your House
We’ve all done it… Maybe we’ve had too many cookies, pop tarts, or Doritos living in the house. How can you not eat them? They’re right there! The key here is self-control, but if you can’t practice self-control for certain types of foods in your home, then it’s important to leave them at the grocery store and only eat them when you go out to lunch or dinner. This goes for sugary beverages as well!
Tip #3: Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Veggies
Adding some natural color to your diet can only aid in positive benefits. Of course, except in situations where you may be allergic. If that’s the case, stay clear of the lemons! But in other cases, fruits and vegetables add an abundance of color to your diet and include things like fiber, vitamins and minerals, and even flavor. Start incorporating 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of veggies in your diet, daily. You can use fresh, frozen, or canned (just watch the sugar in canned).
Tip #4: There’s a Difference Between a Snack and a Treat
Remember what we said earlier? “Food is a means to nourish your body” and that’s no different with snacks. A snack is meant to help your body sustain hunger and energy from one meal to the next. They can be eaten throughout the day between meals, whereas treats should be viewed as more of a reward. While it might be easier to grab a few powered donuts because well…they’re right in front of you, choosing a healthy snack is crucial to keeping you full and nourished longer. Instead of the donuts, or whatever your typical go-to unhealthy snack is, try replacing them with some of these!
- A handful of nuts and low-fat string cheese
- Hard-boiled eggs and fruit
- Plain Greek yogurt. (it can be extra tasty if you add some fruit in your yogurt)
- Peanut butter (or nut butter) and an apple
- Raw veggies and cottage cheese or hummus
Tip #5: Watch Your Portion Sizes
It’s time to get out those measuring cups (you can even use your hands!) and see how close your portion sizes are to the recommended serving sizes listed on the Nutrition Facts label. Have you been going a little over?… That’s okay! It’s never too late to start correcting unhealthy eating habits. Start measuring your food to get an idea of what a healthy portion should look like. Once you got it down, just remember that half of your plate should consist of fruits and veggies, and the other half should be 25% lean protein and 25% grains. You can even add a serving size of fat-free or low-fat dairy to complete the meal!
Tip #6: Eat Seafood 2 Times a Week
Seafood is a great source of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and has huge impacts on your cardiovascular health, according to the American Heart Association. Eating one serving (3 ½ ounces or ¾ cup) of non-fried fish at least twice a week can help prevent heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and several other life-threatening heart illnesses. It’s important to choose a fish, or shellfish, that’s high in Omega-3s and low in mercury – like salmon, trout, oysters, or sardines. Eating just one serving of healthy fish every week will aid in better cardiovascular health than eating none at all. This is also a great substitute for those regular high saturated fatty meals. If you don’t know where to start with cooking fish, try a different recipe each week until you find one you like!
Tip #7: Drink Water and then Drink Some More
Hydration plays a massive role in your body and skin. Drinks with added sugars, like sodas or fruit juices, just contribute to wasted calories and little to no nutritional value. In fact, some sugary beverages can do more harm than they can good. The key to knowing if you’re drinking enough water throughout the day is to make sure your urine is light in color to clear. If your urine is yellow, especially dark yellow, then your body is lacking hydration. Instead of grabbing another Diet Coke (we know…it just tastes so good), quench your thirst with water and give your body what it needs. Don’t know how much water to drink? Try the 8×8 rule (8 glasses x 8 ounces of water a day = a minimum of 64 ounces a day).
Tip #8: Get Physically Active
Getting enough physical activity has numerous health benefits your body needs. If you’re not one to exercise, just start with 10 minutes each day! Eventually, you can build up your stamina to reach 2 hours and 30 minutes each week, which is recommended by the American Heart Association. Maybe try going for a walk around the neighborhood after dinner, playing a game of catch in the yard, or dusting off that bike of yours and going for a short ride. Whatever exercises you can start doing, make an effort to try something today!
Tip #9: Practice Mindful Eating
Listening to your body when you are hungry is super important. It’s also important to stop eating when your body is full. Maybe you’re guilty of sometimes eating when you’re bored, sad, or stressed – but these are unhealthy eating patterns and can lead to serious health issues, as well as an unhealthy relationship with food. Practice mindful eating by sitting down to eat your food instead of eating in a rush. Turn off the TV, put down the phone and electronics, and just focus on the food that is in front of you.
Tip #10: Consult with a Registered Dietitian
The food and beverages you consume every day and over your lifetime matters! In fact, about half of all American adults have one or more chronic diseases related to having a poor diet. Creating healthy eating patterns is key to maintaining optimal health and lowering your risk of disease, but don’t overwhelm yourself with too many goals at once. We all have to start somewhere and taking just one step every day will get you closer to your goal.
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