How long have you been wanting to clean up your diet? Well, March is National Nutrition Month, making it the perfect time to start! We want to help you develop and maintain healthy nutritional habits. In this post, we will highlight tips from a dietician that promote realistic and sustainable nutritious practices. Let’s get started!
Increase Fruits & Vegetables To 5+ Servings Per Day
Fruits and veggies are very nutritious, tasty, and versatile foods; evaluate your current intake. If you don’t eat any fruits or vegetables, start by adding one serving of fruits or vegetables to one or two meals per day. Once you establish this habit, continue to work your way up until you are eating three vegetable servings and two fruit servings every day.
According to the WHO, a serving of fruit or vegetables is 80g. The WHO, along with dieticians and other health professionals, recommend the 5-A-Day serving because it is scientifically proven that consuming 400g of fruit and vegetables a day can lower the risk of developing conditions, like heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.
Aim For 25-30 Grams Of Fiber Per Day
Even though health experts recommend a daily intake of 25 to 30g, most Americans (approximately 5%) only consume about half of this prescribed amount of fiber. There are so many proven benefits to derive from consuming an adequate amount of fiber; it helps you feel satisfied after a meal, which means you are less likely to overeat or snack on unhealthy treats. Fiber also keeps your bowels moving regularly, preventing constipation or slowed bowel movements. Did you know that constipation can give rise to very severe complications?
Fiber has also proven itself instrumental in removing excess cholesterol from the body. We suggest that you gradually add fiber-rich foods to your diet. Good sources of fiber include beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
Have Protein With Every Meal & Snack
Consuming protein-based foods like meat, beans, eggs, dairy, or nuts and seeds helps you sustain energy between meals. This is especially essential for the elderly population as aging increases the loss of muscle mass and strength and compromises bone health. In addition, including protein with every meal and snack can help you maintain a healthy weight, as it reduces cravings for sweets, crackers, chips, and other quickly-digested snack foods. If you find yourself craving junk food in the afternoon or evening, increase your protein and fiber intake earlier in the day. The benefits are worth it!
Drink Plenty Water
If your urine is darker than a pale yellow color, that means you aren’t drinking enough water, so make that effort to choose water first. Research has shown that adequate water consumption improves health, energy, weight management, human performance, and overall functioning. You can start by having a glass in the morning while your coffee brews.
Instead of choosing pop or juice at meals, have a glass of water. If you like a little flavor and carbonation, try one of the sugar-free sparkling waters, like Bubly or Aha, for a small treat. Drinking water replenishes the lost fluid from sweating; it also helps your kidneys function more efficiently and prevents constipation. Give it a try; you will appreciate the benefits.
Incorporating new nutritional habits will require a bit of pre-planning. Once a week, put together a meal plan, then use that plan to create a grocery list. Try using foods that will make the process more manageable for you; for example, buy pre-cut produce or bagged salad kits. Also, pick up a few healthy snacks you can stash in your desk at work (even if you work from home). Taking time to think about and plan your meals will help you in your journey to nutritional success!
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Lambeau, K. V., & McRorie, J. W. (2017). Fiber supplements and clinically proven health benefits. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 29(4), 216–223. https://doi.org/10.1002/2327-6924.12447
Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), 439–458. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
WHO | Promoting fruit and vegetable consumption around the world. (2015). Who.int. https://doi.org//entity/dietphysicalactivity/fruit/en/index.html
Information provided by Registered Dietitian, Tonya Huenink, RDN, LD.