Good nutrition is essential in keeping current and future generations of Americans healthy across the lifespan. People who eat a healthy diet live longer and are at lower risk for serious health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
March is National Nutrition Month – the perfect time to embrace healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle. Need help getting started? Check out these tips from the Academy of Dietetics.
- Eat Breakfast - Start your morning with a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Try making a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, low-fat cheese, salsa and a whole wheat tortilla or a parfait with low-fat plain yogurt, fruit and whole grain cereal.
- Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables - Fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber to your plate. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal. Experiment with different types, including fresh, frozen and canned.
- Watch Portion Sizes - Get out the measuring cups and see how close your portions are to the recommended serving size. Use half your plate for fruits and vegetables and the other half for grains and lean protein foods. To complete the meal, add a serving of fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt.
- Be Active - Regular physical activity has many health benefits. Start by doing what exercise you can. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults at least two hours and 30 minutes per week. You don't have to hit the gym—take a walk after dinner or play a game of catch or basketball.
- Get to Know Food Labels - Reading the Nutrition Facts panel can help you shop and eat or drink smarter.
- Fix Healthy Snacks - Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals, especially when they include a combination of foods. Choose from two or more of the MyPlate food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and protein. Try raw veggies with low-fat cottage cheese, or a tablespoon of peanut butter with an apple or banana.
- Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionists - Whether you want to lose weight, lower your health-risks or manage a chronic disease, consult the experts! Registered dietitian nutritionists can help you by providing sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice.
- Follow Food Safety Guidelines - Reduce your chances of getting sick with proper food safety. This includes: regular hand washing, separating raw foods from ready-to-eat foods, cooking foods to the appropriate temperature, and refrigerating food promptly. Learn more about home food safety at www.homefoodsafetyorg.
- Drink More Water- Quench your thirst with water instead of drinks with added sugars. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, especially if you are active, are an older adult or live or work in hot conditions.
- Get Cooking - Preparing foods at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective. Master some kitchen basics, like dicing onions or cooking dried beans. The collection of “Planning and Prep” videos at www.eatright.org/videos will get you started.
- Dine Out without Ditching Goals - You can eat out and stick to your healthy eating plan! The key is to plan ahead, ask questions and choose foods carefully. Compare nutrition information, if available, and look for healthier options that are grilled, baked, broiled or steamed.
- Enact Family Meal Time - Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week. Set a regular mealtime. Turn off the TV, phones and other electronic devices to encourage mealtime talk. Get kids involved in meal planning and cooking and use this time to teach them about good nutrition.
- Banish Brown Bag Boredom - Whether it’s for work or school, prevent brown bag boredom with easy-to-make, healthy lunch ideas. Try a whole-wheat pita pocket with veggies and hummus or a low sodium vegetable soup with whole grain crackers or a salad of mixed greens with low-fat dressing and a hardboiled egg.
- Reduce Added Sugars - Foods and drinks with added sugars can contribute empty calories and little or no nutrition. Review ingredients on the food label to help identify sources of added sugar. Visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for more information.
- Eat Seafood Twice a Week - Seafood—fish and shellfish—contains a range of nutrients including healthy omega-3 fats. Salmon, trout, oysters and sardines are higher in omega-3s and lower in mercury.
- Explore New Foods and Flavors - Add more nutrition and eating pleasure by expanding your range of food choices. When shopping, make a point of selecting a fruit, vegetable or whole grain that’s new to you or your family.
- Experiment with Plant-Based Meals - Expand variety in your menus with budget friendly meatless meals. Many recipes that use meat and poultry can be made without. Eating a variety of plant foods can help. Vegetables, beans, and lentils are all great substitutes. Try including one meatless meal per week to start.
- Make an Effort to Reduce Food Waste - Check out what foods you have on hand before stocking up at the grocery store. Plan meals based on leftovers and only buy what you will use or freeze within a couple of days. Managing these food resources at home can help save nutrients and money.
- Slow Down at Mealtime - Instead of eating on the run, try sitting down and focusing on the food you're about to eat. Dedicating time to enjoy the taste and textures of foods can have a positive effect on your food intake.
Have nutrition questions? Contact your Colorado Physician Partners practice today. Our practices have Care coordinators who can help you achieve your health goals! They can assist you in navigating the health care system and can connect you with medical and non-medical services. Learn more about care coordination.