If you feel like you’ve fallen off the healthy habit bandwagon, you’re in luck. March is National Nutrition Month, so it is the perfect time to tackle that health commitment you made at the beginning of the year with renewed energy.
You may be wondering why we celebrate nutrition month and how it can help you get back on track. It’s simple really. Nutrition Month is a time set aside to focus on the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and exercise habits.
This year the National Nutrition Month theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” So instead of feeling like you have to change everything at once, you can start small, with just one fork at a time. Whether your eating habits involve preparing meals at home or making choices while eating out, it’s important to develop a way of eating that is sustainable.
Are you ready to join the movement? Then here are a few effective ways you can start putting your best fork forward.
1. Eat a balanced, varied diet.
Eating a variety of nutrient dense foods across all of the food groups reduces your risk of many preventable and primarily lifestyle-based chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Work to incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your daily diet.
2. Choose lighter options while dining out.
Finding healthy options at restaurants is now easier than it ever has been. Most restaurant chains offer lighter, healthier choices. As you peruse the menu, look for options that are steamed or roasted. Likewise, ask for sauces, dressing, and cheese on the side, and control your own portions by asking for a to-go box and putting half of your meal in the box.
3. Set a good example for children.
If you have children, you know how quickly they pick up on things. That is why it is especially important to model good eating habits for children. This modeling begins in the kitchen. Inviting your child into the kitchen to participate in age-appropriate cooking tasks is a fun way to get young ones involved. Serving balanced meals and making the time to enjoy dinner together is also important to help your family build healthy, mindful eating habits.
4. Eat breakfast every day.
Breakfast is one of the most frequently skipped meals by everyone, but it’s also one of the most important. Breakfast helps get your metabolism going and sets the tone for your eating all day long. If you really don’t have time for breakfast, then at least grab a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts to give you a good mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.
5. Drink more water.
Water is another essential to a healthy lifestyle. Your body uses water for nearly ever metabolic process it completes. If you have a hard time drinking enough water, try keeping a water bottle with you all day, using a simple tracking system, or flavoring your water with a few pieces of fresh fruit. Try to drink at least half your weight in ounces of water each day.
6. Adopt the “one more” mentality.
It can be tough to completely overhaul the way you eat all at once. Instead of trying to do it that way, focus on getting in just “one more” healthy food choice each day. If you struggle with veggies the most, work on fitting in one more serving each day. Then once you have that mastered, move on to another healthy habit. Doing a little at a time will make the process much easier and help you stick with it.
If you really want to make your celebration of this month fun, then consider getting involved or organizing some nutrition month activities, such as
- A cooking demonstration or nutrition event
- A presentation at your local park or senior center
- A food donation campaign for your local food pantry or shelter
- A commitment to try one new healthy recipe as a family each week
- A visit to a local farmers market or farm
- A “lunch and learn” on healthy eating
- A scavenger hunt for healthy foods or recipe ingredients
National Nutrition Month is the perfect time to refocus on the healthy habits you started in January or to invite others to join you in your efforts. Use these tips and remember that it’s about starting small and making simple changes every day that you can stick to long term.