March is National Nutrition Month, and we have extended the challenge for our patients to choose one goal that they can work on to improve their nutrition habits.
Good nutrition is as simple as a "high five". Choose one of these ideas to give your body that boosts it needs to function at its peak performance. We'd like to share five simple tricks from nutritionexplorations.org.
- Eat Whole, Plant-Based Foods: The mainstay of your diet should be leafy green vegetables and fruits along with a variety of whole grains, beans, and other legumes. These foods will provide your body with fiber and will keep you going throughout the day. Whenever possible try to buy minimally processed or locally grown foods.
- Get Enough Calcium. To prevent osteoporosis, it's important to eat foods high in calcium to support your bone health. In addition to eating dairy products which are high in calcium, consider adding plant-based sources of calcium like beans, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens to your everyday menu.
- Get Enough Iron. Make sure you get enough iron by eating iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds, and iron-fortified cereals.
- Decrease Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption. Having more than two alcoholic drinks a day increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. Caffeine consumption impacts hormone levels and increases the loss of calcium. So try to have no more than one glass of alcohol a day and limit your consumption of caffeine to one cup a day.
- Cut Down on Added Sugars. Added sugars which are not found naturally in foods have no nutrients at all but are high in calories. Naturally occurring sugars are found in milk products (lactose) and fruit (fructose), while added sugars are hidden in agave nectar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, maltose, malt syrup, and more. Decreasing the amount of candy and desserts you consume is only part of the solution. Sugar is also found in bread, canned soups, beans, and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, and ketchup. Foods labeled as "low fat" or "reduced fat" also contain lots of sugar as manufacturers often substitute the fat in their products by sugar to make it taste better. So choose "sugar-free" or "no added sugar" products. It’s best to use fresh or frozen foods rather than canned goods, and skip fast food meals.
Soft drinks like soda, energy drinks, and coffee drinks contain the largest amounts of hidden sugar. For example, a can of soda contains 10-12 teaspoons of sugar and around 150 calories. Switching to diet soda won't help, as according to the studies it triggers sugar cravings that can contribute to weight gain. Instead, try drinking water with lemon, unsweetened iced tea, or carbonated water with a splash of juice.
Stay healthy, stay happy,
one day at a time.
Join the challenge!