No matter who you are, nutrition matters. Nutrition habits play a vital role in how you look, feel and interact in your day-to-day life. They impact your mood, emotions and even lifestyle choices. For instance, if you consistently eat unhealthy food, you might find yourself lacking energy, which can result in not wanting to exercise, which lends itself to weight gain, and so on and so forth. Needless to say, nutrition has a significant influence on our lives.
This is why the month of March has been designated as National Nutrition Month! Created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month is an annual nutrition education and information campaign celebrated each year. It focuses attention on the importance of making informed food decisions, thus developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Nutrition impacts every area of our lives, including our ability to live altruistically for others. So let’s dive into how you can celebrate National Nutrition Month.
Healthy eating can be a daunting task. Where do you even start? One simple step to begin your journey towards better nutrition is researching recipes. Look online, check with friends or family members or even talk with nutritionists at local grocery stories to see what recipes they might have on hand. If necessary, research the ingredients themselves to see their nutritional value. This might seem overwhelming, but the best thing to do is get yourself out there and start compiling a strong number of healthy recipes you can rely on.
As you evaluate recipes and ingredients, learn how to critically read labels. Food labels can be incredibly suspicious. Between the strange proportions and the unknown ingredients, you might be tempted to simply skip the label altogether and buy what looks best. But, many things which look healthy, actually aren’t, and vice versa! As you research recipes, learn more about how to correctly read a food label. Then, once you begin grocery shopping, you won’t feel so overwhelmed as you expand your nutrition plan.
Make a plan.
Speaking of plan, make one. As the old homage goes, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” Nutrition is the exact same. Without a plan, you can quickly fall back into old habits and whatever available food happens to be on hand (healthy or not). Instead, plan out your meals at the beginning of the week, shop for ingredients and then write the meals on the calendar. Not only will you eat healthier overall, but you will also save money, waste less food and experience less stress during the typical dinner-time rush.
Keep healthy snacks.
As you plan, consider keeping healthy snacks present throughout your day. For instance, keep a bag of nuts in your purse for an energy pick-me-up in the afternoon. Or, have an apple at your desk in case you get hungry toward the end of the day. You are at your weakest when you start to crave snacks during lulls throughout the day, so make sure you’re prepared beforehand. Otherwise, you might just grab the closest thing possible. Have healthy options available so you can stay on track with your nutrition plan.
Most Americans tend to eat a minimal breakfast, small lunch and then a large dinner. However, eating late into the evening can actually have adverse effects on your nutrition because the energy is wasted on your sleep, rather than when you need it throughout the day. Instead, flip this pattern on its head by eating a large breakfast, then eating smaller meals during the day. If you don’t have time for breakfast, then a big mid-day lunch is the a better alternative to an enormous dinner.
National Nutrition Month is this month, and it’s the perfect opportunity for you to get involved. Live a fuller, more well-rounded life by learning about nutrition and seeing how you can apply it throughout your day-to-day activities. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel physically, mentally and even socially.