Most experts agree: Healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated. Unfortunately, the endless aisles of food options at the grocery store paired with quick, easy access to endless information on the Internet can make it feel complicated! Avoid fad diets. Stick with a few healthy eating basics that most health professionals agree will promote a long, happy, healthy life. Here are three key ways to eat – and live – right:
Balance your diet with foods from all food groups
Add healthy foods: Load up on all kinds of colorful fruits and vegetables. Rather than avoiding all grains (carbohydrates), eat smaller portions of whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, quinoa, or oatmeal. Add foods that are high in healthy fats such as avocados, salmon, nuts, and olive oil.
Create new behaviors: Identify times when you eat mindlessly or tend to cave in to “junk foods.” Plan ahead for a healthier food you will eat instead or an enjoyable activity to avoid eating at that time.
Eat less added sugars: Learn how to read food labels for sugar. Foods and drinks with added sugars include obvious items such as soda, desserts, and candy, but also flavored yogurts, juice drinks, granola bars, and cereals. Many people find renewed energy and weight loss after cutting down on foods that contain added sugars.
Get active every day with enjoyable movement
Sit less today. Any activity is better than none, so find something that you enjoy and can do often. If exercise is intimidating, try simple steps such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking at work breaks, or waking up 15 minutes earlier for yoga before the day gets busy.
Make your mental health a priority
Foster a positive attitude about your health and food. Get into a “wellness state of mind.” Your mind plays an important role in how you feel about food and eating. Ask yourself:
Why do I want to make changes now? What is my goal?
How ready am I for this change?
Am I willing to try healthier foods?
Do I understand that change takes time, patience, and daily action?
If you are ready to embrace a healthy way of living and want to learn more, check out: Total Body Diet For Dummies by Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN, LDN and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign highlighting the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. In addition, National Nutrition Month promotes Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information.
For more reliable nutrition information, visit eatright.org.
Susan Krahn, MS, RDN, CD, CLC, is a public health nutritionist for the Eau Claire City-County Health Department.