March is National Nutrition Month. This is an important reminder for all of us to take a closer look at our eating habits and reevaluate our nutrition intake. If you find that you could be making healthier choices, there are a few simple changes you can make to eat healthier and get the nutrients your body needs.
Switch to whole grains
Cutting out the refined carbohydrates –– such as those found in white bread and pasta –– can increase your fiber intake, help control your weight, and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Make simple adjustments like using whole-wheat bread and whole-wheat pasta instead of white bread and white pasta, and swap out white rice and flour tortillas for brown rice and corn tortillas.
Use kale in place of iceberg lettuce
The darker the green, the better. Iceberg lettuce doesn’t provide much nutritional value, so swap it out for kale or other dark leafy green vegetables. Dark leafy greens like kale are packed with essential nutrients like fiber and vitamin C.
Drink unsweetened tea instead of sweetened tea or soda
Sodas and sweet teas contain high amounts of sugar that far exceed your recommended daily intake in just one serving. Swap these sugary beverages out for unsweetened flavored tea, or carbonated water.
Dine out smart
It’s best to limit how often you dine out, but if you choose to eat out, be smart. Order baked or grilled chicken or fish instead of red meat. Choose a side salad or veggies instead of fries or chips, and avoid cream-based sauces.
Careful with your caffeine
When ordering coffee at your local coffee shop, you may be tempted by a new seasonal latte or blended beverage. Keep in mind that many crafted coffee beverages are often high in calories and fat –– some even reaching over 500 calories. Be sure to order coffee drinks with skim milk, watch the sugar, and skip the whip.
Get plenty of sleep
People who regularly sleep seven to eight hours per night are statistically leaner than those who only get five or six hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation causes the body to produce extra stress hormones, which can increase your appetite and make you more susceptible to eating unhealthy foods.
Read the labels
If you choose to eat packaged foods, be sure to check the label first. Look for foods with fewer and simpler ingredients. Avoid anything containing hydrogenated oils, artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, high levels of fat and sodium, and refined sugars.
In addition to all of these simple changes, try to follow the 80/20 rule. In other words, make healthy choices 80 percent of the time, but still allow yourself to indulge every now and then. To learn more about making healthier choices, call the physicians at Pomona Valley Health Centers today at (888) 686-0773.