March is National Nutrition Month (NNM) and this year’s theme “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” emphasizes that nutritious and delicious food is possible and easy with the right tools! This nationwide campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focuses on combining “taste and nutrition to create healthy meals”. Here are 10 simple tips to jump-start good habits to celebrate National Nutrition Month!
1. Increase fresh fruits and vegetables.
Get creative and incorporate at least 5 servings a day. Think “outside the box” for ways to pack in these nutrient rich foods.
- Breakfast: Invite veggies at breakfast by adding kale or carrots to a morning smoothie, bell peppers to an omelet, roasted sweet potatoes for hash browns, or bake an egg in a sweet potato or avocado.
- Lunch/Dinner: Salads and stir-fry’s are an easy place to start with a variety of sautéed fresh veggies, but you can add shredded lettuce or cabbage to sandwiches, use Bibb Lettuce for a lettuce wrap sandwich, dice peppers, onions, and carrots for a quinoa vegetable burger, add a variety of spicy veggies to burrito/fajitas, or add broccoli and tomatoes to a pasta/casserole dish.
- Snack: Pack raw veggies to dip with hummus or make a fresh fruit & vegetable juice to take on the go.
- Dessert: Save berries for dessert or blend an evening berry/veggie smoothie.
2. Sit down when you eat.
Avoid mindless eating while multi-tasking. Start by sitting at a table, turning off your phone/TV, and focusing on appreciating each bite of food.
3. Share a meal.
Share a meal at least once a day with friends or family. Take a lunch break with co-workers or try family dinners at a regular scheduled time.
4. Swap the salt for fresh herbs and spices.
The Dietary Guidelines recommendation of 2,300 mg sodium a day can be tricky when 1 tsp of salt has 1500 mg! The American Heart Association recommends sodium intake should be further reduced to 1,500 mg for people 51 and older and for those of any age who are African American or who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. Swap out the saltshaker for your favorite seasonings like fresh garlic, rosemary, thyme, curry powders, or grated ginger to fully flavor your food.
5. Increase water intake.
- Have a water bottle available with you at all times.
- Not a fan of regular water? Infuse your water by adding fresh citrus fruits like lemon, lime, or orange slices for a flavor boost. Add refreshing pairings like cucumber and mint, lemon and orange slices, or strawberries and blueberries to your water.
6. Add heart healthy fats.
Swap fats that lack nutritional value (like mayonnaise or bottled salad dressings), and add heart healthy nuts, avocado, and extra-virgin olive oil.
- Add nuts to your lunch time salads or pack in a portion controlled bag for an on-the-go snack.
- Drizzle Extra-Virgin Olive Oil to your Spring Salad mix with Balsamic vinegar or your choice of italian season dressing
- Add avocado slices to bean & rice taco salad or a quinoa and greens salad for lunch. Bake an egg in half an avocado for breakfast.
- Blend and avocado with almond milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, and banana for a dessert smoothie/pudding.
7. Increase physical activity.
- Make it simple and aim for 3, 10-minute walks a day
- Swap the elevator for the stairs
- Choose a farther parking spot to your work entrance or grocery store.
- Even when at your desk, make it a point to increase daily movement.
8. Be prepared & cook at home.
- Create a weekly dinner menu on Sunday with recipes to be used for lunchtime leftovers or that can be used in multiple ways.
- After choosing your recipes, stick to the shopping list at the store for a happy wallet and waistline.
9. Keep healthful foods in view.
- Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter
- Store colorful vegetables in clear containers to remind you of your healthy options
10. Practice Meatless Monday.
This global movement started in 2003 helping address the prevalence of preventable illness associated with excessive meat consumption. Limit animal products and instead build your plate around fresh vegetables and whole grains