March is National Nutrition Month and a good time to think about the basics of healthy eating. “Put Your Best Fork Forward” is the Academy of Nutrition And Dietetic’s theme this year. The theme is is a way for Americans to remember that, "making just small shifts in our food choices, can add up over time," according to the Academy.
Achieving optimal health is not about a specific food or time of year, but rather a life-long commitment that leaves plenty of time for the foods and activities we enjoy most. The truth is, there is no one food, drink or fad diet that is the key to optimal health. What’s most important is getting a balance, with sustainable and enjoyable eating practices and daily physical activity. Committing to a healthy lifestyle can help to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.
Not sure how to get started? Dedicate yourself to a healthy lifestyle in 2017 with these nutrition and exercise tips:
Eat Breakfast – start your day off right with a healthy breakfast consisting of lean protein, whole grains, fruits and /or vegetables.
Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables – fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture—plus vitamins, minerals and fiber to your plate. Try to use what is in season and local. (This website can be a helpful first step.) A visit to your local farmer’s market can also inspire you.
Watch Portion Sizes – just “eyeing it” on portion sizes? Get out the measuring cups and see how close you are to the recommended size.
Be Active – regular physical activity lowers blood pressure and helps your body control stress and weight. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes per day and adults should get at least 2 ½ hours of exercise per week.
Fix Healthy Snacks – healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals. Try low-fat yogurt with fruit, or a small portion of nuts with an apple or banana.
Get Cooking – cooking at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective. Need some cooking tips? Check out the videos at www.eatright.org/videos to get started.
Dine Out Without Ditching Your Goals – you can dine at a restaurant and stick to your healthy eating plan! The key is to plan ahead, ask questions and choose foods carefully.
Drink More Water – drink water instead of sugary drinks.
For healthy breakfast ideas, fruit and vegetable recipes, healthy snack ideas and dining out tips visit the National Nutrition Month website.
— Laura Quinn RDN, CDN, Sodexo Dietitian at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital