Written by: Nicole Clemmer, Dietetic Student, Milligan College
Reaching your health goals can seem like a daunting task. Help your patients/clients celebrate National Nutrition Month this March by getting back to the basics with these general principles for healthy living.
Eat less processed foods
When ingredient lists are long, the nutrient values are often less than optimal. By eating a variety of foods in their whole, less processed, form, you will not only consume more vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but you will also see positive changes from the inside out including heightened energy and even a healthier physique. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a great place to start!
Focus on moderation, not deprivation
Even though it is beneficial to monitor the overall nutrition content of the foods you eat, moderation is still key. This means that less nutritious foods can be eaten in small amounts and you don’t have to feel guilty about it! When the body is not deprived of these “treats,” it is less likely to overcompensate with intense cravings that can result in overeating.
Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. Any movement of muscles for a period of time is considered exercise, not just going to the gym! The national recommendation for general health is 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. Go on a walk, hike, swim, bike, or even dance. Remember that any movement is better than none, so find something you enjoy and move!
Stress can have a powerful effect on nutrition-related decisions. It can lead to cravings for foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat, added sugar, and caffeine. Not providing your body with proper nutrition can produce even more stress! Be proactive about managing stressors in your life by factoring relaxation or stress-relieving activities into your lifestyle. Check in with your hunger and satiety cues to make sure you are eating for nourishment and not for emotional fulfillment.
Check in with your patients/clients on where they stand in each of these areas of a healthy lifestyle. Build on these principles to create a firm foundation to improve physical, mental, and emotional health.