Nutrition from the ground up, that’s the official 2010 National Nutrition Month message. But what’s at the root of this message? More importantly, what seedlings from this message can you plant and grow into real changes in your eating habits in 2010 and beyond?
Key message #1: Focus on fruits and vegetables Eating more fruits and vegetables puts your focus on the ground. The 5-a-day (servings of fruits and vegetables) mantra is a great one to apply to checking in on whether you eat enough fruits and vegetables. Reality is: most of us don’t. If you need to add more fruits and vegetables do so slowly and easily. One more, then another and so on until you’re getting 5-a-day or more (more is better in this case!). And they don’t have to be fresh from ground. Frozen fruits or vegetables are great, too as are canned (no sugar added) fruits and canned (no salt added) vegetables. Stock your kitchen with easy to store options so you’ll always have them on hand.
Key message #2: Look Locally The availability of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and more, is multiplying fast through local farmer’s markets, community-supported agriculture opportunities through near-by farmers. Purchasing locally has several feel-good features – it’s environmentally-friendly, feeds your local economy and minimizes the days your food travels and loses vitamins and minerals.
Key message #3: Make Your Calories Count Another way of saying this: get the biggest nutrient bang for your calories. That means plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy foods and meats. The best way to focus on this is to cut down on added sugar and fats in your foods. Lighten up on sugary drinks, use less or no sugar in hot or cold drinks and eat very few sweets and desserts. Reserve your calories for small portions of great tasting desserts only. Think about where butter, margarine, cream cheese, sour cream, bacon, salad dressing and oils creep in and on your foods. Then try to skim and trim them.
Key message #4 Test Out Your Taste Buds Translated this means try new foods and expand your food horizons. When it comes to fruit: consider mango, kiwi, clementines, or a new type of apple or pear. And for vegetables try zucchini, cabbage, chard or beets. Explore the foods of various cultures. Experiment with quick cooking whole grains, quinoa, barley or millet. Look online for simple recipes which use these new ingredients. You’ve got the message…find new palate pleasers.
Key message #5 Splurge on Sweets and Treats, Just Occasionally Let’s face it we all enjoy sweets and treats now and then. You don’t need to be a saint or angel when it comes to healthy eating. And you don’t need to say never to your favorite foods or a simply devine dessert. BUT, you do need to figure out how to balance these splurges to avoid going overboard on calories and to continue to eat healthfully. The secret? Enjoy your favs on occasion and in small servings. Don’t deprive yourself, that strategy usually backfires.