Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle
~ By Laura Brieser-Smith, Registered dietitian, certified personal trainer ~
March is here, which means it’s time to celebrate National Nutrition Month. Although there are many factors that influence our health, nutrition and physical activity are two of the most important areas that we can control. This year’s theme of National Nutrition Month, “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” encourages everyone to adopt eating and physical activity plans to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease, promote overall health, and maintain good quality of life. While this message is nothing new, this is a good time to take inventory of what you are doing and see if you might be able to make a few improvements.
So what does a healthy eating plan look like? First and foremost it should emphasize nutrient-rich foods and beverages. Try to have the majority of your diet consist of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds. Whole foods in their original form tend to have higher nutritional value than processed convenience foods. Also, try to limit foods with a high amount of added fats, sugars, and salt. Many times these foods will contain a lot of “empty” calories (energy without many nutrients) and can contribute to overeating. Be sure to eat the right amount of calories for you. Your needs are determined by your body size, age, activity level, etc. Many Americans eat more than double what they need at any one time, so really watch those portion sizes. It is also important to attempt to get as many nutrients from foods as possible. While supplements can help to fill in the gaps, foods provide an array of other components that are beneficial to health and cannot be obtained from supplements alone.
And don’t forget to engage in regular physical activity. This includes both planned exercise most days of the week as well as daily activities. A big key to a healthy lifestyle is to avoid being sedentary for long periods of time. Research shows that sitting for more than one hour at a time can have many negative consequences on your body.
Laura Brieser-Smith, RD, MPH, CHFS is the owner of Healthy Designs, LLC which provides nutrition counseling and personal training to clients in their homes or offices. She can be reached at 303-635-1131 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.