So, it’s March. March is one of my favorite months! Although March usually brings pollen and my terrible sinus issues, March reminds us that winter does not last forever (thank the good Lord) and that summer is in our near future! March was the month my youngest sister was born- which always calls for a big celebration. This March my husband and I got to visit the gorgeous San Diego, CA which is always a plus. March is also when St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated and who doesn’t love green beer? Oh wait, me. Because I’m pregnant…. Anyway.
Not only is March a reminder of so many fun events, March is National Nutrition Month… Basically a month long celebration of my career and passion for nutrition. During March people actually acknowledge that there might be more to my profession than simply stating “eat your fruits and vegetables” over and over again. The National Nutrition Month campaign is designed to keep people educated and informed about the nutrition choices they should or should not be making. This year’s theme, Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle,encourages people to adjust their health through not only food consumption, but physical activity to achieve a healthy weight and reduce risk of chronic disease.
So in honor of this fabulous month, I thought it’d be a great time to review some nutrition basics. People are constantly saying “Constance, I need your help” or “Constance, what should I eat?”:I hear it so much that my response has almost become rehearsed- which is terrible. So I figure why not list out a few basics on my blog, and if nothing else comes of it at least I can say to those who ask in the future “please refer to my blog posted on March 20, 2015 for the answers.” Totally kidding! Kinda.
So here we go. Five tips for National Nutrition Month:
Look for the stuff that goes bad. On Jess’s random (and very rare) trips to the grocery store alone, this is the rule that he uses so he can know for sure that he is picking healthy options. All too often we tend to think that some of the processed crap (100 calorie packs anyone??) are a healthy choice when all they do is provide empty calories that make you feel like you “did good today”. Now I’m not saying that a few non-perishable item can’t be healthy, but if we are trying to have a cut and dry game plan about what to choose, go for the stuff that starts to stink in a week or two.
Ok but really, eat your fruits and vegetables. Recommendations say to aim to eat at least 5 servings per day, but I’m here to tell you that if you accidentally go over on your spinach servings tomorrow, that is a full blown success in my book.You can have all the fanciest supplements in the world but if most of your intake doesn’t come from natural foods, you are wasting your time!
Don’t buy the hype. Marketing companies have done a great job lately at fooling us into thinking that certain items are healthy. They plaster “zero grams trans-fat” or “gluten free” all over the dang labels to make us think we are making a healthy choice, not admitting to the loads of other crap they’ve put into their product instead. Prime example- I had already starting writing this blog on Tuesday and we went to small group Tuesday night. One of our fabulous hosts made gluten free cookies (which were delicious). She tried to see if the husbands would notice the difference, and when they didn’t she announced that they were gluten free. Almost immediately a few responded “Oh! Gluten free! That means they are healthy so I can have another!” You can imagine my response. Those gluten free cookies, while a totally dessert blessing for someone with Celiac Disease, have the same sugar, same fat, and same calories as regular cookies!!! So while they are enjoyable, it doesn’t mean we can have extra! So many consumers are such easy targets because even if they have no desire to eat a gluten free diet, they purchase products that have the stamp and feel proud of themselves (“…and it’s totally ok that I ate the whole box because it was healthy”). Be smart and make wise choices- don’t let the product fool you. If it looks and feels too good to be true, then it probably is.
Drink your water. We should all be taking in AT LEAST half our weight in ounces of water per day. And that is if we are totally inactive and sit on the couch all day- which I do not recommend doing! Getting your water in really does make such a huge difference. You have more energy, prettier skin, and you feel full longer resulting in you not taking in as many calories per day.
Avoid the strict diet mentality. I see it more often than not, the people who are looking for a quick fix are the ones who tend to fail the most. Most of us can’t just wake up one day and decide to never eat carbs again after a lifetime full of pasta, cookies, and doughnuts and then expect to succeed. (Especially during birthday parties- see cake above.) It is nearly impossible. Good nutrition is a constant battle between eating healthy foods and monitoring your intake of processed junk. Healthy foods may not win everyday- and that is ok. The main goal is to get up tomorrow and try again, just like learning to ride a bike. (You should be riding a bike often too- great exercise. Even though I prefer to run.)
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