National Nutrition Month®: 5 Tips for Improving Your Diet
Attention one and all—March is National Nutrition Month®. It’s the best excuse to improve your eating habits by taking up some new food traditions in your household, from simple, healthy breakfasts to getting your kids excited about fruits and vegetables.
Here are five tips for celebrating National Nutrition Month® the right way.
One of the toughest games a parent has to play is the “just try it” game—especially when it comes to vegetables. But there are several tactics you can try to get your kids excited about eating well. One surefire way is to introduce some of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ activity handouts. From portion-size coloring pages to word searches, you’re covered. Then try out some of the organization’s tips for making snack time healthy without sacrificing the fun factor.
Starting the Day Right
One of the biggest culprits of poor eating habits is grabbing something unhealthy in a hurry while heading out the door (or skipping breakfast all together). The best way to combat this is to realize that your morning routine probably won’t change—but the food you grab can. Consider prepping food in the evening when you’re in less of a hurry, such as hard-boiling eggs or cutting up fruit. And not all foods that are quick are bad—many types of instant oatmeal, for example, can pack good fiber and nutrition in one bowl and are simple to make in a pinch and fruits like grapes or bananas require little to no prep work!
Cutting Back on Salt
High blood pressure is common in America. One huge contributing factor to this disease is that we’re eating too much salt. The best way to save yourself from hypertension down the road is to be conscious of what you’re grabbing in the grocery aisle. Sure, you could grab for that pre-packaged soup or pizza or you could grab a handful of fresh ingredients to make a larger batch (at a lower cost in the long run) and have frozen, premade meals for the rest of the week. It’s about putting a little more time in now to reap the benefits (and the time savings) later. So the next time you’re tempted to grab processed foods, pick fresh instead and your body will thank you.
Treating Salad Like Salad
It’s a mainstay of every fad diet—just eat more salad. But salads can quickly turn unhealthy if you’re not opting for the right toppings. A good rule of thumb is avoid dressings as best you can and add flavor through other, fresh toppings. (And if you must have a dressing, go for the vinegar-based, low-salt, low-sugar options or make your own.) Try to go for lean meats, add some nuts, or chop up a hard-boiled egg for protein. Cranberries or other fruits can also add a lot of flavor to a salad.
Reducing Your Sugar Intake
We all love it. It tastes good, and we can’t get enough of it. But many pre-packaged foods come loaded with sugar those foods don’t even need. Take spaghetti sauce, for example—premade, jarred sauce often comes with a lot of added sugar—and you’d be surprised how much unnecessary sugar you’re getting from healthy-looking juice. Too much sugar greatly increases your risk for diabetes, whether you’re an adult or a child. Check the nutrition label for high-sugar foods. Avoid foods with added sugar, versus natural sugar (like the ones found in fresh fruit). Look for ingredients such as “corn syrup,” “fructose,” “sucrose” or “granulated sugar” and avoid eating them on a regular basis.