March is National Nutrition Month, a campaign created to promote healthy eating and exercise habits. With the advent of spring, March is also a time of renewed energy and life, making it fitting that we use this month to reevaluate our eating habits and discover what changes we can make to improve our health.
There are many ways in which we can optimize our nutrition choices such as choosing whole grains, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, and substituting healthy fats for unhealthy saturated or trans-fats. But actually putting these into practice can be daunting, especially with busy schedules or simply not knowing what exactly constitutes a whole grain or healthy fat. Utilizing the internet for information or guidance doesn’t help much because of all the conflicting information and diet fads that make you think that you have to give up entire food groups to be healthy.
Fortunately, improving your nutritional health can be done by adopting just a few simple habits. Nutrition coach and exercise physiologist Dr. John Berardi suggests the following for maximizing your nutrition and working towards your health goals:
- Eat slowly and stop when you’re 80% full. Eating quickly causes us to eat more than we really need. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it’s full. When we eat quickly, we’re likely to eat far too much before our brain tells us we’re full.
2. Eat protein dense foods with each meal. In healthy individuals, a higher-protein diet is safe and promotes optimal health, body composition, and performance. Protein also helps with satiety, or the feeling of fullness, in between meals.
3. Eat vegetables with each meal. Veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals as well as plant chemicals that reduce disease risk help the body function optimally. Plus, filling up on nutrition-packed vegetables will help prevent overeating less optimal starchy or refined carbohydrates. Build up to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
4. For fat loss, eat a majority of other carbohydrates after exercise. In other words, you’ve got to earn the higher-carbohydrate meals by exercising first. The trick, here, is focusing on unprocessed, high-fiber carbohydrates over refined or high-sugar carbohydrates. Limit or avoid sweetened drinks and sodas.
5. Eat healthy fats daily. The body needs dietary fat in order to function optimally. On average, about 30% of the diet should come from fat. Focus on adding healthy monounsaturated fats (extra virgin olive oil, some nuts, avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (some nuts, some vegetable oils, and fish oil supplements) to balance out fat intake.
Use the Superfoods Checklist to help you determine what are the best options for protein, carbohydrates, and fats. CLICK HERE.
One more habit I will add is to drink lots of water throughout the day, especially before, during, and after exercise! Invest in a good water bottle and carry it with you everywhere to help remind you to drink often.
Adopting these 5 habits over time can greatly improve your nutritional health, reach your weight-loss goals, and help you feel better too!
Breakthru fitness coaches can help answer any questions you have about general nutrition and putting these habits into practice! Breakthru YOUR goals, schedule your FREE Fitness Screen with one of our Fitness Coaches today!
Source: Berardi, John. (2013) The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Toronto, Canada: Precision Nutrition, Inc.