March is National Nutrition Month! After the past few months of holiday meals, you may be motivated to start eating more nutritiously and exercise regularly. A big emphasis during this month is simply to make INFORMED CHOICES about the food you eat and to develop sound eating and physical activity habits. Remember to not give up on changing your goal of living healthier. Good habits take a long time to establish (66 days or more).
Here are a few tips taken from EATRIGHT.ORG:
- Explore New Foods, Flavors and ‘Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.’ If your food begins to loose its luster, adding more nutrition and pleasure to each meal is as easy as expanding the range of foods you choose. Try one new fruit, vegetable or whole grain every week. Start small by picking a different type of apple, a different color potato or a new flavor of whole-grain rice until you are comfortable picking entirely new things that you’ve never tried or heard of before.
- The next time you eat out, choose a restaurant that features ethnic foods from Asia, Europe or Africa. These restaurants often feature menus filled with healthy options that will be new to you.
- If you prepare your own meals, add a pinch of this or that to give your regular dishes some additional zing. Remember, you have about 10,000 taste buds, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
The National Library of Medicine has some great suggestions for eating habits and behaviors:
- A food journal is a good tool to help you learn about your eating habits. Keep a food journal for 1 week.
- Write down what you eat, how much, and what times of day you are eating.
- Include notes about what else you were doing and how you were feeling, such as being hungry, stressed, tired, or bored. For example, maybe you were at work and were bored. So you got a snack from a vending machine down the hall from your desk.
- At the end of the week, review your journal and look at your eating patterns. Decide which habits you want to change.
- Reflect on your food journal. Look at your journal and circle any regular or repetitive triggers. Some of these might be:
- You see your favorite snack in the pantry or vending machine
- When you watch television
- You feel stressed by something at work or in another area of your life
- You have no plan for dinner after a long day
- You go to work events where food is served
- You stop at fast-food restaurants for breakfast and choose high fat, high calorie foods
- You need a pick-me-up toward the end of your workday
- Replace your old habits with new ones.
- Find health choices for snacks and plan ahead. Take only a small portion, put it in a dish and put the rest away. Eat fruit and yogurt in the mid-afternoon about 3 or 4 hours after lunch.
- Eat only when you are hungry. Eating when you are feel worried, tense, or bored also leads to overeating. Instead, call a friend or go for a walk to help you feel better.
- Eat Slowly. Eating too quickly leads to overeating when the food you have eaten has not yet reached your stomach and told your brain you are full. You will know you are eating too quickly if you feel stuffed about 20 minutes after you stop eating.
- Plan your meals. Know what you will eat ahead of time so you can avoid buying unhealthy foods (impulse buying) or eating at fast-food restaurants.
- Get rid of unhealthy foods. Put them out of sight or in hard to reach places. Replace your candy dish with a bowl of fruit or nuts.
- An old saying goes: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”
- Breakfast sets the tone for the day. A hearty, healthy breakfast will give your body the energy it needs to get you to lunch.
- Plan a good lunch that will satisfy you, and a healthy afternoon snack that will keep you from becoming to hungry before dinner time.
- Avoid skipping meals. Missing a regular meal or snack often leads to overeating or making unhealthy choices.
Don’t forget that we have a huge selection of books dealing with nutrition. A few of them are highlighted this month on our WU Reads page.