6 Tips for Making Smarter Nutrition Choices
By Danette Wickman, RDN, CD
We’ve all said at one time or another that we’re going to put more effort into eating healthier and living well.
But busy schedules and unrealistic expectations can often get in the way of the consistency needed to achieve a truly healthy outlook.
It can be hard to reach a goal—especially one that has to do with health and wellness— without having specific guidelines to follow.
One easy way to start your pledge to healthy eating is to commit to a just few new habits at a time.
There’s no need to wake up tomorrow and start doing five new things at once; instead try adding one new habit per week, and you’ll see how small healthy choices can add up to big results over time.
Here are six easy tips for children and adults to keep your nutrition on track.
1. Eat berries with breakfast: Berries are an incredibly powerful food, rich in nutrients for our brain, good for digestion, and disease-prevention. They're also a great source of vitamin C and they keep us fuller than processed cereals with dried fruits. Try adding a half cup of your choice of frozen or fresh berries to either a smoothie, oatmeal or yogurt.
2. Drink a glass of water when you wake up: Drinking water is essential to hydrating your body first thing in the day after a night-long fast. It helps wake you up and is an excellent way to flush out your body to keep you regular, a key part of staying healthy. In addition, dehydration can sometimes mask itself as hunger rather than thirst, causing to us to eat more than we normally would. Prevent this mix-up by starting your day healthy and hydrated.
3. Enjoy plain coffee and tea: Coffee and tea offer antioxidants that boost mental health. Coffee helps people stay alert, focused, and feel good. Research continues on further health benefits of coffee, and the evidence is yet to come. The key is to leave out the sugar and milk, which can cancel out the health benefits of these morning favorites.
4. Eat one dark green food per day: Eating one dark green vegetable per day or one dark leafy green is a simple way to put your health first. It can be a cup of broccoli at dinner or spinach snuck into a morning smoothie. Leafy greens provide us with more nutrition than any food out there.
5. Ditch the added sugars: According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes 74 pounds of sugar a year! Stick to whole, natural foods, avoiding snacks that feature added sugars near the top of the ingredient list. If you get a craving for sweets, try an apple, some berries, a banana or an orange, or just enjoy sweet veggies like carrots instead.
6. Flavor with herbs, not salt: Instead of shaking salt on all your food, try using herbs to flavor them instead. For breakfast, use cinnamon, cardamom and ginger for a sweet and spicy flavor. For lunch or dinner, use Italian seasonings, sage, black pepper, basil, thyme, oregano, cayenne or turmeric. Mix these up however you like, but use them more often!