How to Make Smart Food Choices for Better Health
There is so much information on nutrition and health. I googled “best nutrition tips.” There are 324 million results. There’s information on toddler nutrition, sports nutrition, weight-loss and pre-workout nutrition. And, I realize, I’m adding to it.
But in those 324 million results, from the Eat Nothing White Diet to juice cleanses, if we look at the in-between information, a lot of it is solid information. It’s just hard to find it in the glut of trends.
To celebrate National Nutrition Month, I want to give you 8 tips on how to make smart food and exercise decisions for better health. We’re going to take “never” and “always” out of the equation and talk about some pretty easy ways to make better health choices.
- Know thyself. Nutrition needs differ depending on age, gender, weight, physical activity, whether you’re expecting a baby or are in the throes of postpartum. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all nutrition plan.
Fix: Talk to your health care provider. Get an appointment with a registered dietitian to come up with a meal plan to fit your budget and needs.
- Where are you getting your information? Steer clear of fashion magazines and trends! Your friends aren’t particularly reliable either. For solid information, there are some great resources I recommend. (There are more, but these are my top go-to resources).
- Save the bling for clothes. Shiny packaging is alluring and usually a sign of high-sugar, high-salt, high-fat products. Eating clean is a growing trend. It’s all about ingredient awareness and being able to pronounce the food you put in your mouth. The shinier the packaging, the more likely the food is unhealthy. Become a food-label reading expert and keep things simple!
Fix: Shop the parameters of the supermarket. Steer clear of the inner aisles where you can easily get sucked into a trap of color! Keep the color to the fruits and vegetables, cheeses and yogurts, and protein products you choose!
- Don’t cut out carbs! Oh-the-dreaded-carb. It always gets the shaft. There are people who visibly cringe at the sight of a bread bowl. Carbs are not evil. Carbs are essential. They provide our bodies with energy (so so needed). Also, all of our cells have something called antigens. These are little tags to tell other cells recognize one another. Antigens are made of carbohydrates joined to proteins.
Fix: Choose good carbs – not no carbs. Choose whole grain breads and crackers, pastas and rice. Quinoa, fruits, and vegetables are all complex carbohydrates that feed our brains, our cells, and give us the energy se so need!
- Power up with healthy protein. Proteins are essential for building and repairing tissues, to make enzymes, hormones, and are the building blocks of muscle, bone, cartilage, skin and blood. No protein is not an option.I’m not talking the fad of going 100% protein. Though hamburger is tempting, there are many more economical, and healthy protein choices.
Fix: Fish, lentils and beans, lean meats, and nuts are the best choices for protein. Replacing red meats with vegetable-based proteins is a great way to reduce cholesterol and save money. Soy beans, tofu, quinoa, amaranth and hemp are all sources of vegetable proteins. Get creative! Go for meatless Mondays.
- Pile your plate with color: Increase your fruit and vegetable intake, the more colorful, the better.
Fix: Add shredded veggies (zucchini, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower) to sauces, soups, chili and meatloaf. Give frozen fruits and vegetables their due. Nutrients and minerals found in fruits and vegetables are incredibly tough. In fact, the fiber and iron content of fruits and vegetables, whether fresh or frozen, don’t change. Further research has found that there’s not a discernable difference between fresh and frozen corn, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, strawberries, and blueberries. Make fruits or veggies your go-to snack or mid-morning treat.
- Drink up! Water is the key to hydration. Hydration is critical for colon and gut health. It’s important for your skin … for everything. You’re probably more dehydrated than you think. But steer clear of sugary drinks like sodas.
Fix: Keep a bottle of water at your desk. Set a timer to remind you to drink water. Log your water intake. Drink, every time you remember to drink.
- Make it matter. Go to your friend’s wedding, drink margaritas, and dance on the beach. Have an ice cream cone with your grandchild while walking through the park. Celebrate life with its vast array of flavors and incredible moments that take your breath away. One of my favorite quotes, from Brian Andreas, is, “Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life.” Every moment, every bite, every movement is nourishment … so make them matter. This is your shot at a beautiful life. Live it well.
I could go on with many more nutrition tips. But I think I’ll leave it here. Celebrating nutrition means celebrating health. Celebrating health means celebrating life. Be well.