March is National Nutrition Month and the theme for this year is “Put your best Fork Forward.” The campaign was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and focuses on developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
Making changes can be hard but setting one small goal at time can add up over time to produce positive impacts to your health. Choose one of the following healthy habits to implement. Give it a try for one week then see if you can add another healthy habit the next week. Before you know it, you will have created a healthier you!
- Make at least half your grains whole.
Whole grains offer many benefits over their stripped down versions. They are higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Look for “whole grain” or “whole wheat” listed as the first ingredient on bread. Choose brown rice over white. Corn tortillas are also a good choice over flour tortillas because they contain more fiber. And don’t forget popcorn-it is also a whole grain!
- Make one meal eat week meat free.
Choosing plant based proteins instead of meat can offer many benefits. Not only is it better for the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is also better for our bodies. Plant based proteins such a beans or lentils contain no saturated fat and have the added benefit of being high in fiber. Whole grains, nuts, and seeds are also good sources of protein. Try adding a weekly “Meatless Monday” to your family’s routine.
- Make sure every meal has at least 1 serving of fruit or vegetable.
Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring chemicals called antioxidants that protect our body’s cells from damage. Higher fruit and vegetable intake is strongly correlated with lower incidences of diseases like diabetes and cancer. Aim to add fruits and vegetables from all colors of the rainbow to reap the maximum benefits. Try making an omelet with vegetables like spinach and mushrooms for breakfast. Eat a piece of fruit with lunch or start dinner with a side salad.
- Choose water over sugar sweetened beverages.
Consuming sugar sweetened beverages like soda and sweet tea on a daily basis has been shown to contribute to obesity and an increased risk of developing diabetes. By simply replacing these beverages with water, you automatically reduce your daily calorie which can help maintain a healthy weight. Try carrying a refillable water bottle with you and filling it up several times during the day. If plain water seems boring, add fresh fruit to create a low calorie flavored water.
- Aim to be physically active most days of the week.
Exercise is good for our hearts, minds, and waistlines. Being physically active creates a stronger heart and reduces the risk of heart disease. Physical activity helps our mood and protects our brains from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Exercise also burns calories which can help us stay trim. Try starting with a 10 minute walk during your lunch break. Grab a friend and check out a Zumba class or set a “step goal” and track your daily steps using your cell phone.
This March “Put Your Best Fork Forward” to create a healthier you one forkful at a time- Your body will thank you!