March is National Nutrition Month, sponsored by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and dedicated to helping Americans eat more healthfully. This year’s theme is “Savor the flavor of eating right.” Use this month to focus on your health and eating habits and develop healthful habits that will last way past March. Here are 5 tips to improve your health:
Eat more fiber
According to the Mayo Clinic, fiber can provide an array of health benefits. Fiber aids in weight loss or maintenance, by keeping you full from meal to meal, and it can help lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease, since it aids in regulating blood sugar levels and in removing bad cholesterol from your body. The recommended daily fiber intake for men and women is 38g and 25g respectively. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can all be great sources of fiber. To get the most benefits from your fiber intake, combine it with a lean protein, which slows digestion, further stabilizing your blood sugar levels and keeping you feeling full for longer.
Improve your bone health
Osteoporosis and low bone mass is extremely prevalent in older adults. In order to prevent bone disease, an adequate intake of vitamin D and calcium is recommended. In practice, 95 percent of Americans do not consume enough vitamin D, and 49 percent of Americans do not consume enough calcium. Take control of your bone health and add vitamin and mineral rich foods to your diet. One 3oz. portion of salmon contains 75 percent of your daily vitamin D recommendation, and 2 cups of dairy can provide 40 percent-50 percent of your daily calcium recommendation. Strength training is another great way to improve your bone health as well.
Track what you eat
By tracking your daily food intake, you not only become more aware of what you’re putting in your mouth, but you become more accountable for it as well. Tracking food is easy with apps like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt. Tracking your food will show you what you’re doing well already, areas where you can improve, and your eating behavior patterns. Did you know you were a persistent late night snacker? How about a social eater? This knowledge can be empowering and help you take the next step in making healthier life choices.
Several spices have received a lot of press lately and it’s for good reason! Add spices like turmeric, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon to your meals and savor the vibrant flavors that they provide. Turmeric, cardamom, and ginger contain valuable anti-inflammatory properties which help remove toxins we intake from foods or the air and cinnamon has been proven to help in controlling blood sugar levels and aid in boosting your metabolism- both of which can aid in weight loss efforts. The list of spices and their benefits doesn’t end here! Be adventurous with your spices and experience the difference.
“On-the-go,” is a common mode of eating in today’s fast paced society. Taking the time out to sit down and enjoy a proper meal is one of the most effective ways to make you more mindful of what you’re eating, reduce calorie intake, and give your body a chance to register that you are getting full. Lunch time and dinner time shouldn’t be synonymous with “phone-time” and “e-mail-time.” Pay attention to the food going into your mouth and eat slowly. The body takes 15-20 minutes to register that you’re full, so that should be the minimum amount of time you spend eating your meal.
For more tips on healthy eating, drinking and losing weight, and for delicious high fiber meal plans and recipes, check out my latest book, The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber!
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.