March is National Nutrition Month. What better time to spring clean your diet? With warmer weather afoot, it’s also the perfect opportunity to shed any winter padding you may have (unintentionally) added.
What is National Nutrition Month?
National Nutrition Month is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Since its inception in 1980, the campaign has strived to highlight “the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.”
The focus for 2019 is flexibility and diversity. How we define a healthy diet is different for everyone. The campaign aims to embrace that, while at the same time increasing public awareness on the importance of healthy eating.
What is the Healthiest Diet for You?
Apart from the Standard American Diet, most popular diets are rooted in good health. Everyone has their own idea about which one is best (Paleo, vegan, etc.), but we can all meet in the middle on the importance of good nutrition.
Humans are living longer, but our health is on the decline. A lot of the challenges people face nowadays are lifestyle-related. Prioritizing your health is key, and it starts with building good nutrition habits. Pick one or two of the suggestions below, and slowly add more as you feel comfortable.
17 Ways to Eat Healthy
1. Sign up for a Meal Kit Delivery Service
The best way to build a new habit (in this case, eating better) is to make it easy. If you want to prepare healthy food at home but don’t have time to go grocery shopping, a meal kit delivery service will help.
2. Go Organic
If you can afford to make the switch, it’s never too late to go organic. Researchers found that six days is enough to significantly reduce levels of harmful pesticides in your body. With more and more organic food delivery services popping up, it’s easier than ever to get fresh produce.
3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
The first meal of the day is by far the most important. After a night of fasting, your body is primed to take on nutrients. Eating a healthy breakfast is the best way to make that happen. It doesn’t have to be a big meal, but it can’t be a donut, either.
4. Drink More Water
Water does a lot more than just quench your thirst. Among other things, it aids digestion, protects your organs and regulates body temperature. How much you should drink depends on your age and health, so do some research before chugging back gallons of the stuff. If you find plain old H2O boring, you can always spice things up with these infused water recipes.
5. Cut out Refined Sugar
Not all sugar is bad. The kind found in fruit, for example, is perfectly fine. It’s the cookies and candy variety that’s not doing you any good. Fortunately, it’s possible to cut out refined sugar without hating your life. There are plenty of natural sweeteners to fill the gap, just don’t go overboard with them.
6. Eat More Whole Grains
According to two recent meta analysis reports (studies of studies), whole grains increase longevity. All it takes to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. is 90g of whole grains a day. Forgo the refined carbohydrates, and up your intake of things like oats, barley, brown or wild rice and sourdough rye.
7. Eat More Beans
After studying the world’s longest-lived people, Dan Buettner and his team identified 11 simple guidelines that reflect their eating habits. All of them are worth adopting, but beans are the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world. Eat at least half a cup of cooked beans a day to enjoy the benefits of a fiber-rich diet.
8. Increase Your Fruit & Veg Intake
“Eat your vegetables!” said pretty much everyone’s mom ever. And with good reason, it turns out. If you want to live a longer, healthier life, you need to eat seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Upping your intake might seem daunting initially, but there are plenty of ways to sneak more fresh produce into your diet.
9. Cook With Ayurvedic Spices
Spices are rich in flavor, but did you know they’re also nutritionally dense? If you’re new to the magical world of spices, you might be overwhelmed by how much there is to choose from. Start by adding these five Ayurvedic kitchen spices to your diet: cinnamon, turmeric, fenugreek, coriander and ginger.
10. Cut Down on Saturated Fats
Too much saturated fat in your diet can lead to heart disease and other health problems, such as weight gain. Foods that are high in saturated fats are often low in nutrients, which means you feel hungry sooner.
11. Save Takeout for the Weekend
Fast food does have some advantages. It’s convenient, it saves time and it means you get a break from the kitchen. Health problems arise when that’s all you eat. Save takeout for the weekend, and prepare your own food during the week, so you get to enjoy the best of both worlds.
12. Leave Your Willpower at the Store
Sticking to a new diet can be tricky when you’re surrounded by temptation. One way around this is to leave your willpower at the store. In other words, don’t buy anything you shouldn’t be eating. If you love chips, wait until your cheat day and then go and get yourself a packet.
13. Wash Your Fresh Produce If You’re Not Eating Organic
For a lot of folks, organic produce is either hard to come by or too expensive. Eating conventionally grown fruit and vegetables isn’t the end of the world. Just make sure you wash them properly to remove those pesky pesticides.
14. Snack Less
The problem with mindless snacking is that it interferes with the body’s natural hunger cues. Get into the habit of checking in with yourself before eating anything. If you feel hunger pangs, drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If you’re still hungry, then eat something.
15. Introduce Fermented Foods
Adding fermented foods to your diet is hugely beneficial for your health. In addition to being rich in diverse, healthy bacteria strains, they also help your body to digest and absorb nutrients by breaking down foods. As an added bonus, your gut, brain and waistline benefit from them too.
16. Bake Don’t Fry
Fried food is delicious, but it’s not doing your heart or your waistline any good. These ‘no fry’ fried foods are the answer. Prepared in the oven, they have all the tastiness of traditionally fried food without the extra calories.
17. Learn to Decipher Food Labels
There are all sorts of sneaky marketing phrases designed to make us believe something is good for us. They’re easy to spot, since they’re usually on the front of the package in bold print. If you really want to know if something is healthy, you need to learn how to decipher the label on the back.
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