March marks the month as National Nutrition Month where companies focus on food and activities that help us live a healthier life. But most importantly, living a healthy life starts at home and teaching our children at an early age how clean eating affects our health forever.
Thankfully, I grew up with health conscious parents who believed in growing organic fruits and vegetables and that eating them on a daily basis not only help fight off many illnesses and diseases, but cultivates a natural tendency to eat healthier too. In essence, what we put into our bodies are what our bodies will output. It’s not difficult at all to eat healthier and to choose healthier foods on a daily basis. You just have to realize why eating healthy is important and avoiding harmful food when possible.
Now, temptation in food will always be around us. But to truly enjoy your life as you get older, you have to realize that resisting foods that can evidently and eventually harm us starts with making the right food choices. In order to do so, let’s look at what’s inside our refrigerator and pantry right now and get rid of those foods that are filled with artificial ingredients, too much sugar, and high in saturated fats. Of course many other factors attribute to poor health, but starting off on the right track can lead to a healthier eating habit.
*Six Common Nutrition Pitfalls:
Skipping Breakfast – we’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well research shows that skipping breakfast may wreak havoc on the body’s hunger and appetite cues, possibly resulting in eating even more calories later in the day. To make sure our bodies stay on the right track, breakfast should include whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Anything from whole fruit, no sugar added smoothies to whole grain toast and eggs would be great choices for breakfast.
Not Eating Enough Fruits and Vegetables – unfortunately this is all too common in the US household and limiting fresh fruits and vegetables in our meals hinders our bodies from fighting off certain illnesses and diseases. We should strive to eat at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups (preferably whole) fruits daily. Easy ways of doing so would be to just bring along a sweet and delicious apple in your lunch bag or chop up some veggies such as cucumbers, radishes, and cherry tomatoes to make a healthy and fun crudites platter.
The Late Night Snack Attack – we’ve all fallen into this pitfall at one time or another and although sometimes it may be necessary depending on the reason, we should really dive into the many reasons why we snack after regular bedtime. Are you truly bored or just hungry? Read a good book or work on a hobby you’ve set aside for awhile. Eat regular meals throughout the day. Eat smaller meals if eating larger meals make you full during the day and lead to being hungrier late at night. Eat wholesome, whole grain meals that include healthy protein. If you must snack, choose healthier foods such as fruit (although acidic fruits can leave you with an upset stomach), cut up vegetables, or a gluten-free type of bread product for fiber.
Not Enough Sleep – research found that sleeping less compared to well-rested results in low energy and your body feeling like it needs to refuel with food. With less energy, we may be inclined to eat higher-caloric type of foods or order takeout instead of cooking something healthy and delicious at home. To help you sleep better every night, avoid watching television or reading on a personal electronic device close to your bedtime, which may activate your brain instead of help you wind down. Avoid heavy meals, caffeine and alcohol in the evening, which may disrupt sleep. And stick to a schedule, sleeping and rising at the same times daily.
Not Planning Ahead – planning ahead of time is a great strategy and practice for all areas in our lives. When it comes to eating properly, try to make a meal plan that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Making it a weekly meal plan will help you shop better and be creative.
Old Habits Die Hard – we all succumb to convenience and routine in our lives. While some habits are good, eating poorly is one habit we want to eliminate and change. If you follow the steps above and realize why you’re stuck in the unhealthy eating route then you can find a path to become healthier and make healthier life choices forever.
During National Nutrition Month, Van’s Foods ( http://www.vansfoods.com/)had kindly given me free product coupons to help promote this very important awareness. Van’s Foods makes healthy and delicious breakfast products ranging from frozen waffles and pancakes to wholegrain cereals.But they also make delicious, gluten-free crackers which I picked up a few boxes to try just to see how gluten-free savory snacks would taste compared to their non-gluten-free versions.
The gluten-free crackers I tried were: Gluten-Free Crackers Fire Roasted Veggies and Gluten-Free Crackers Say Cheese! The Fire Roasted Veggies had a wonderful abundance of savory and tanginess while the Say Cheese! was filled with cheesy and buttery flavor. Both were quite different in flavor and taste yet had a good amount of crunch and substance. And although they are savory in flavor, they have very little amounts of sodium so they’re not too salty. Van’s Gluten-Free Crackers are made with their signature blend of whole grains which includes Brown Rice Flour, Oats, Millet, Quinoa, and Amaranth. The Say Cheese! is a great bite-sized variety and the Fire Roasted Veggies would be great for dips.
Although I’m more inclined to whole grain wheat crackers, my favorite out of the two was the Say Cheese! The Fire Roasted Veggies was a bit harder to the bite but pairing them with a dip really brought the crunch factor down. If you are trying to stay away from gluten products, Van’s Food also makes other gluten-free flavors such as Gluten-free Lots of Everything!, Gluten-free Multi Grain Crackers, and Perfect 10 with crackers that are a bit bigger in size than their other ones. Van’s Foods crackers and other products can be found in most natural grocery stores as well as traditional supermarkets.
So no matter how you decide to eat healthier this month, pick something that is easy to start with and go from there. It could be substituting a meal with a hearty vegetable soup and crackers or a bowl of fresh vegetables for a salad. Eating better and properly insures a healthier lifestyle as well as maintaining proper balance in our lives. It’s never too late to start on a healthier habit so change one meal a day and go from there.
*Some of these content are taken from the Whole Foods Market blog (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/).