Smart Steps for National Nutrition Month
In honor of National Nutrition Month, we have some tips to make eating healthy a bit easier, whether you’re at home or on the go.
When it comes to overall health, nutrition is powerful, Amy Williams PA-C, explains. “Your body counts on proper nutrition to get vitamins, minerals, and energy to perform well. Having a well-balanced diet also helps reduce chronic health concerns like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes.”
Feeling the Effects of Food Choices
Finding yourself feeling sluggish, unfocused and unable to keep up in the fitness arena? You might want to take a closer look at your diet, says Amy Williams PA-C. With poor nutrition comes a host of symptoms and side effects.
“Common side effects of poor nutrition could include fatigue, poor exercise tolerance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, slowed mental processing and poor sleep.”
A step in the right direction starts with a smart cart. Be more mindful of what goes in your shopping cart each time you shop. Go for color, fresh foods and variety.
Fill Your Cart With These Staples
Dark leafy greens and red and orange veggies
Fat-free or low-fat dairy including milk, yogurt and cheese. Or go the non-dairy route– fortified nut “milks” like almond or cashew are popular alternatives.
Plenty of protein like seafood, lean meats, poultry, nuts, soy products, beans and peas
Oils such as olive, canola, sunflower, corn, soy and avocado
Planning meals ahead of time and creating a weekly grocery list can help you stay on track, hit all your key food groups and lessen the burden of coming up with meals on the spot (and probably avoid last-minute unhealthy takeout or restaurant scenarios).
Make Health Choices, The Easy Choice
Proper nutrition on-the-go is doable when you meal plan and stock your pantry and fridge with healthy staples.
“Search for foods that are colorful and not doused in sauces,” says Amy Williams PA-C.
Snack attacks sneak up during the workday? Making a few small changes in your choices can go a long way. Cut down sodium and fat by opting for veggies and dips made from vegetables, like carrots and hummus. Because vegetables are fiber-rich, they’ll help you stay full longer.
Take Advantage of Nutrition Tools
Food diary apps and calorie counters can help provide guidance and give you an overall look at your eating habits, wherever you go.
“The most common question I hear from patients is ‘How many calories should I eat?’. There are many calorie calculators available online, one option is MyFitnessPal, which allows you to set up a profile to better estimate your caloric need. The types of calories we eat often make some of the biggest difference. Logging your food in an app like MyFitnessPal will help you understand what type of calories you’re consuming,” says Amy Williams PA-C.
If an app isn’t your style, you can always keep a food journal or speak with a nutritionist.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Drinking enough water is something most of us could be better about. Hydration is not only essential for overall health and proper organ function, it also helps us avoid confusing thirst for hunger.
Steer Clear of Fads
We’re bombarded with rumored quick fixes and the latest diet trends regularly. But Amy Williams PA-C warns about gimmicks, and recommends looking at the longer term, bigger picture.
“Nutritional health is riddled with fad diets and the idea that rapid weight loss is easily achievable and long lasting. Unfortunately, fad dieting generally leads to more net weight gain over time as people resume their ‘normal’ dietary patterns. The main focus should be centered on a long term, sustainable dietary pattern that leads to gradual weight loss and maximal nutritional value,” says Amy Williams PA-C.
For more helpful nutrition resources and tips, check out https://www.choosemyplate.gov/.