Food is fuel for our bodies. You wouldn’t put the wrong type of gasoline in your car, the same is true for what we eat on a daily basis. March is National Nutrition Month and the emphasis is on making healthy and well-informed food choices so that we can all stay healthy and active for the long term. A nutritious diet fuels our bodies and our minds. The vast majority of us will say “I want to eat healthier” but knowing how to start down that path can often prove to be challenging. So, what are some practical first steps that we can make as a part of a healthier eating plan? Let’s explore a few.
Drink more water
Before you grab that can of soda, consider first drinking a glass of water, just a quick 8oz (or more). Not only will you check off that serving of water from your daily goal, but you might feel more energized as a result. And if you just can’t resist the bubbles (like me), then flavored bubble water is a great way to trick yourself into that soda experience but without all the artificial colors and sugar. Make your “flavorless” water more fun by adding slices of fresh fruit and berries.
Get more sleep.
I am personally 100% guilt of this. Not only will I stay up later than necessary but I’m also guilty of laying in bed and looking at my phone. There are several reasons why this is a bad habit but what it all comes down is that we all need to power down in order to avoid “overheating.” Studies show that certain foods can help improve sleep, so try to stay away from alcohol, high sugar or fatty foods just before bed. Sleep is good nutrition for the brain, and the more sleep we get the more likely we are to make better choices during the day, especially when it comes to food.
You can meal prep breakfasts and lunches with just a little weekend planning.
Make a batch of breakfast burritos and freeze them. You can throw one into the microwave just before you head out the door or take it to work with you. Now you’ve got a healthy breakfast choice that might deter you from the sugary donut or muffin at the coffee shop.
Purchase bulk lettuce, some dark leafy green, grill or bake chicken, slice up cucumbers, pre-wash cherry tomatoes, roast some sweet potatoes. These ingredients can be quickly made into an on-the-go lunch to eat during the week.
Make it fun!
You’re not on this healthy eating journey alone! Find a friend or co-worker of like mind and set out on this healthy eating plan together. The camaraderie is a great motivator, especially when looking for motivation and fresh ideas. Set goals together, share recipes (maybe each of you trades days packing a healthy lunch to share at work – this will prevent meal-prep boredom), and celebrate accomplishments!
Be patient with yourself.
Making a ton of changes at the beginning is a great way to set yourself up for the possibility of failure. Set yourself up for success by trying to make small changes each day, like drinking more water, getting an extra hour of sleep, or eating a healthy breakfast. Small changes made incrementally can have big results over time. Nutrition is as much about the food we put into our bodies as it is about setting up good patterns of behavior that help us to nourish our bodies and minds.