Hey, March is National Nutrition Month!
If you’ve fallen off the healthy eating wagon since New Year’s it’s a perfect time to reboot and refocus. One bite at a time.
Here are some tips and ideas to get you going:
- Eat breakfast. Yep, you have heard this over and over… and over again, but humans are still human, so it’s still true. When you wake up, eat. You’ve fasted all night while you slept so your body needs fuel and it needs nutrients. No, you cannot “just live off your body fat”. Well, technically you can... but it’s not ideal, especially long term if you want to successfully regulate your metabolism, manage your weight and optimize your athletic performance. Consider your current weight management and athletic performance situation if you regularly skip breakfast. Is it successful and/or the best it can be? Probably not. For those who say they “just can’t eat in the morning”, it’s more than likely just because you don’t eat in the morning. If you start eating breakfast, you’ll train your body to start craving breakfast. And in turn your body will become more efficient at regulating your metabolism and your energy needs throughout the day. Start with something simple like a piece of fruit, a boiled egg, Greek yogurt or even a glass of grapefruit juice, and build from there.
- Start your morning with a kale smoothie. From salads to chips and, of course, the smoothie, kale is HOT and it’s everywhere. I’ve even seen raw chocolate-covered ones on the shelves of local trendy grocery stores. Not for me but well, whatever gets some people excited to eat it, right? Kale is a super food packed with fiber (keeps bowels clean and cholesterol in check), iron (health-ifiying your hemoglobin to oxygenate your cells for growth and renewal), vitamins A (health-ifying your skin and vision), K (super-fying your bone health and blood clotting ability) and C (fortifying your immune system). Add 20-30 grams of protein and you’ll offer your muscles plenty of support to get the most out of your daily exercise. Plus, smoothies are a great way to get your breakfast on the go, especially for those who are training themselves to eat breakfast in the morning. (wink) Need a recipe or two? Get one here. Note: if you have IBS or thyroid issues monitor your intake of kale. Try more easily digestible baby kale, or skip the smoothie and stick to cooked kale.
- Avoid junk food in the afternoon. Once upon a time I worked in an office and noticed that often around three in the afternoon I’d find myself fighting to keep my eyes open and awake. I’d try to trick my eyes by letting one close to “sleep” while the other stayed awake to keep working… Ah, nope, it did not work. I’d also soon find myself looking for something to snack on. If this scenario sounds familiar for you, too, or you find yourself rummaging around for something salty or sweet in the afternoon, you’re not alone. According to a recent study by British research group, One Poll, you’re more likely to make poor food choices at 4:12 pm (the average time people cited for giving in to temptation). Not surprising since by that time it’s been a while since lunch so your blood sugar may be low and you may also be feeling the fatigue of the day. Your body is looking for energy. Instead of reaching for chips or candy, though, opt for light 150-200 calorie snack choices with both fiber and protein so you feel satisfied, like a handful of nuts and dried fruit, or apple slices with string cheese or nut butter.
- Drink a gallon of water per day. Yep, a gallon! Every day you’re breathing, peeing and sweating out about three quarts of water. That’s water lost even when you aren’t exercising! Since you’re body is made up of about 60-70% water, three quarts is roughly a 5-10% loss of fluid. For reference, a deficit of just one quart can make it harder to concentrate, stay alert and think clearly. You may also develop a headache. A loss of two gallons can land you in the hospital and a loss of three gallons of life water can mean figuring out what to put on your headstone. So drink up! If you have trouble sipping throughout the day, this idea will get you close to that gallon: Drink two cups with a squeeze of lemon when you first get up in the morning and then schedule your alarm on your smartphone or computer while you’re at work to remind you to drink a cup every hour. When you get home, drink one cup before dinner, one cup with dinner and one cup after. That’s fourteen cups! Note: yes, you will spend a lot of time in the washroom at first but your body will soon acclimate to absorbing what you need more efficiently so you won’t need to go as often. Note: Yes, you do get water from food and other things that you drink. This recommendation is considered for optimal performance and well being.
For more info on National Nutrition Month visit eatright.org.