Healthy Living

Simple Tips for Healthy Eating. March is National Nutrition Month-a… | by Danial Harith | Oct, 2021

March is National Nutrition Month-a month dedicated to the practice of healthy eating. Each year has a new theme, and this year’s theme is Personalize Your Plate. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. We are all unique with different bodies, goals, backgrounds, and tastes!”

This month, dietitians are encouraging people to learn about making informed food choices and develop healthful eating habits. Here are some tips provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help you start your journey to more personalized food choices:

Include healthful foods from all food groups. Your body requires a variety of nutrients to support its many functions. It needs macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), phytonutrients (natural compounds found in plants), and water. To ensure you are getting enough of these essential nutrients, try to fill your plate with foods from each food group-vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins, and dairy.

Read Nutrition Facts Panels. Knowing what’s in the food you eat is important, especially if you are trying to improve your health. Though many packaged foods claim to be “healthy,” their nutrition labels may suggest otherwise. Try to limit foods with a lot of added sugars. You can find this information under the Total Carbohydrate section of a nutrition label. Avoid products that include trans fat. Look for this information under the Total Fat section. A good rule of thumb is to reach for whole or minimally processed foods as much as possible and when eating processed (packaged) foods, always read the nutrition label before buying or consuming.

Avoid distractions while eating. While multitasking may seem like a good idea, it is rarely beneficial, especially when food is involved. Your attention is a limited resource and when it’s divided between eating and something else, hunger and fullness cues that keep your appetite in check can go unnoticed. Distracted eating is a major culprit of overeating, so it should be avoided.

Take time to enjoy your food. Despite being one of the more pleasurable things in life, eating has become somewhat of a chore for many of us. Between work, school, family, and all the other things on your to-do list, it seems there is little time to really enjoy food. Two downsides of rushing through meals or skipping them altogether are poor food choices and potentially overeating. To promote healthy food choices and prevent overeating, take a few extra minutes to really enjoy your food.

Plan healthful eating while traveling. When traveling, research the area before you leave and find local shops that serve healthy food options. If you are staying somewhere with a kitchen, find a nearby grocery store where you can buy ingredients to make your own meals. This is a good way to save money, since eating out can be costly.

Keep healthful ingredients on hand. To make eating healthier easier, stock your fridge and pantry full of nutritious ingredients. Keep lots of fruits and vegetables on hand, canned or fresh. Fill your freezer with different meat options (e.g., chicken, fish, or beef). Dairy items like milk, yogurt, and cheese are great for cooking and baking. Buy whole grain breads, crackers, and pasta. Other healthy items to have around include eggs, nuts, oatmeal, dried fruits, hummus, and nut butter.

Reduce food waste. To cut back on food waste, get creative in the kitchen. Get inspired from recipes and then come up with your own version based on ingredients you have in your fridge and pantry. Unlike baking, cooking is more of an art than a science. Measurements don’t need to be perfect and ingredients can easily be added or removed. Stir fries are a great way to use leftover vegetables, meat, and rice. Try designating one dinner each week as a “use-it-up” meal. This will help you go through all the food items that are about to spoil.

Making informed food choices and developing healthful eating habits doesn’t have to be hard, it just takes a little know-how and practice. Use the recommendations above to guide your efforts and soon enough, you’ll find an approach to eating that works best for you. Remember, there is no one-size-fits all approach to nutrition and health.

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