It’s National Nutrition Month (R)! Sponsored by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (eatright.org), this is the perfect time to think about all the ways that you can move toward a healthy lifestyle. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I certainly focus on food, but realize that food alone does not make a healthy lifestyle. (If you’ve read the About Sherry section, you know that I focus on the Four F’s.) Still, food and nutrition is an important place to start, since your diet can impact your energy level, focus, stress level, and help you prevent and manage chronic disease. Here are fie simple tips to help you bite into a healthy lifestyle:
- Drink more & mostly water. Chronic dehydration can lead to lower energy levels, headaches, and muscle cramps. It can also lead to overeating, since many people mistake hunger for thirst. Aim for 1/2 your body weight in ounces (ex. if you weight 160, shoot for 80oz or 10 cups).
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Almost no one seems to eat enough fruits and vegetables. Include one or more servings at every meal and snack. Choose a variety and eat mostly vegetables, since they’re generally lower in calories but packed with nutrients. Also watch the toppings, sauces, and dressings – they can add lots of calories!
- Walk more. Park farther away, take the stairs, walk instead of email to chat with co-workers…it all adds up. A pedometer, smart phone app, or fitness tracker can help motivate you. (I use a Fitbit!)
- Eat mindfully. Pay attention during your meals and snacks. Slow down. Wait 10-20 minutes for seconds, sweets, and dessert. Meanwhile, drink a large glass of water. You may discover that you are actually satisfied after a meal or not hungry, but it takes a while for your brain to get the message. If you’re still hungry, enjoy a sensible portion and know that you’re mindfully eating.
- Find a way to relieve stress that works for you. Disconnect from everything else for this activity. Massage, meditation, deep breathing, prayer, and gentle exercises (like yoga or walking outdoors) are all great ways to help turn down the noise, literally and figuratively, and reduce the stress that is part of everyday life.
You don’t have to do all of these all at once! Just choose one. Try it. Incorporate it into your life. Then choose another. And another. Before you know it, you will be enjoying a much healthier lifestyle.