The month of March is known for windy days and a new welcomed season: spring! It is also National Nutrition Month. The theme this year is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.”
This theme encourages personalized healthy eating styles, based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans which is found on www.Choosemyplate.gov.
Diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer and obesity are on the rise in adults and children.
Choosing better nutrition in our diets is crucial to help ward off these mostly preventable life threatening issues.
Besides breathing and sleeping, eating is life’s most vital activity. Eating nutritional whole foods helps prevent fatigue and depression while at the same time assisting with the general function of the entire body.
It is far too easy to fall into the cycle of eating fast, convenient, prepared food, but we are not fostering great health by doing so.
The average American diet lacks nutrients and relies heavily on processed foods.
Our fast foods remove us from the pleasures of creating and savoring a wonderful meal, and our fast paced lives often prevents us from connecting relationally over a delicious home cooked meal.
A good place to start is to focus on the foods you should eat rather than concentrate on foods you shouldn’t eat.
“During the past few decades, the focus seems to have been on foods to avoid or ‘good’ food versus ‘bad’ food” states Licensed Nutritionist Carolyn Denton from Abbot Northwestern’s Institute for Health and Healing.
“But what qualified as bad kept changing. First it was fats, then carbs. However, current research shows that what we fail to eat may impact our health more than eating ‘bad’ foods”.
By becoming aware and implementing the following tips you will increase your overall nutrition and health benefits. Small choices can add up to big changes in a short amount of time!
Eat a wide variety of foods from all of the food groups.
Increase fruits and vegetables. Try to choose organic as it is likely they have more phytochemicals.
Choose whole grains.
Include beneficial fats (olive oil, avocados and canola oil).
Drink water and limit caffeine.
Control your portions.
Avoid trans-fatty acids.
Avoid corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
Limit processed foods.
Exercise and move daily.
Have healthy foods on hand for quick, easy meals.
There is a strategy called “shielding” which almost guarantees success according to psychologists.
These principles and research show the subconscious brain helps shield you from temptation over eating unhealthy foods and lack of exercise which contribute to weight gain. There are four keys of learning how to shield yourself as you start a healthier lifestyle.
1. Will is a skill. Learn all you can about food and their nutritional value. Understanding the value of good nutrition encourages one to make healthy choices.
The website www.supertracker.usda.gov is a free site that gives the nutritional value of your foods as well as creates reports of daily graphical data. Set up your profile and Super Tracker will help keep track of your exercise calories burned and how many calories you have left to eat on a particular day.
2. Visit your desired future. Write down what your goals are in terms of your weight and nutritional needs. Engage the power of vivid imagery and emotion.
Emotion is the glue that makes the imagery stick! Set a written goal. For example visualize yourself being able to walk or run non-stop for thirty minutes or running your first 5K or 10K race.
3. Don’t do it alone. Make it fun! Team up with a friend when exercising and living a healthy lifestyle.
4. Shape the path for success. You are creating positive habits that will become easier to follow. Set out your gym clothes the night before so they are ready to go. Calendar your work out time and set aside your excuses to exercise. Preplan your food.
Make sure to have healthy snacks in your purse, car and gym bag. Go through your cupboards and get rid of the foods that have little or no nutritional value.
On Super Tracker there is also a spot to journal not only your food and where you ate it, but also your mood while you were eating.
Keeping track of daily events will help you identify emotional triggers that may be associated with changes in your health behaviors and weight.
At Anew Day Counseling Center, we are here to help you with your emotional distress and the areas of your life that feel out of control.
Holly LaChappell is an educator, fitness instructor and a volunteer lay counselor with Anew Day.
Besides breathing and sleeping, eating is life’s most vital activity.