March is National Nutrition Month, designated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics!
This year’s theme is Eat Right, Bite by Bite. So what does Bite by Bite really mean?
Eating Right Bite by Bite refers to the idea that incorporating small, daily changes to your diet and lifestyle can add up to significant improvements in your health. Below, we’ve listed some of the easiest, most effective ways to improve your health, bite by bite!
- Add fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks
We’re all bombarded with messages about going vegan, vegetarian, or even plant based. But the truth is, you don’t have to completely change your diet to enjoy the benefits of fruits and vegetables. Think of adding fruits and vegetables to your diet, rather than cutting anything out. Adding a few servings of plant based foods each day can drastically improve your health over time.
Why should I care about eating more fruits and vegetables?
- Fiber – Fiber keeps you fuller for longer, reducing your intake throughout the day. It also helps to maintain a healthy digestive system, and is linked to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
- Vitamins and minerals. Eating a diverse array of fruits and veggies will provide you with essential vitamins and minerals that help your body operate at its best. Think of it this way: if your body was a city, vitamins and minerals are like the taxi/Uber/Lyft drivers, construction workers, and employees that help the city run!
- Lower calories. While fiber helps us to feel full, fruits and veggies are low in calories, making them a great option for weight maintenance or weight loss.
Some tips for incorporating more fruits and vegetables:
- Eat the rainbow. The more variety of fruits and vegetables you eat, the better. Color is a great way to keep track of how nutritionally diverse your diet is.
- Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter, and place chopped vegetables in the front of your fridge. These visual cues help steer us in the right direction.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Don’t worry too much about exact portions, just fill up half of the plate!
- Limit added sugars
What is an added sugar – A sugar that isn’t naturally found in a food. For example, an apple contains natural sugar, while a flavored yogurt contains added sugars.
Why should I care about added sugars?
While sugar provides energy, it doesn’t provide us with much else nutritionally. If we only have so many calories to eat in a day, it’s better to pack in those fruits and veggies, and less of refined sugar. Over time, too much added sugar and not enough physical activity can lead to weight gain and lower consumption of vitamins and minerals overall.
Tips to reduce added sugars:
- In with the water or seltzer, out with the juices and sodas
- Enjoy plain low-fat milk (or dairy alternatives) rather than flavored or sweetened milks
- Choose plain yogurt with whole fruit over sweetened, flavored yogurts
- Eat whole fruit with your dessert to add some fiber to your sweet treat
- Choose whole grains over white grains
Why are whole grains a healthier choice than white, “refined” grains?
Short answer: they have more fiber!
Refined grains (like white rice, bread and pasta) are white due to processing that alters palatability as well as removes fiber. Without the healthy fiber, these refined grains are super easy to overeat, and can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes. Whole grains still have their fiber, which keeps you feeling full and leads to more stable blood sugar throughout the day. Eating fiber can also improve your digestion and help support a healthy gut microbiome!
Tips for choosing whole grains over white/refined grains:
- Look for whole grain products. “Whole grain” or “whole wheat” should be the first ingredient on the package’s ingredient list
- Trade white pasta, flour, and breads with whole grain alternatives. They often taste similar, and some people even prefer the taste of whole grain
- Aim for 25-30 grams of fiber a day. Eating a variety of whole grain products will help you reach this goal quickly
Looking for more ideas and for support with healthy eating? Contact the dietitians at Waverley Oaks to schedule an appointment today! We accept all major health insurance plans. email@example.com