If you’ve already fallen off the wagon with your New Year’s resolutions, maybe it’s a good thing that March is designated National Nutrition Month. If nothing else, it serves as a reminder that you can try, try again to eat more healthfully this year.
Attitudes toward healthy cooking and health foods have undergone such a transformation of late that it’s almost rare these days when a magazine throws calories and fat grams to the wind and celebrates our favorite comfort indulgences and sweet temptations.
Many of them still do, yes, but very often the recipes have been made-over so they’re lighter and better for you. It’s obviously a popular topic this time of year, as Vegetarian Times, EatingWell and Clean Eating all touted “healthier” versions of comfort food favorites.
But beyond seeking out low-cal recipes from our favorite food and cooking magazines, we can turn to the Academy of Nutrition and Diatetics, which sponsors National Nutrition Month and is stressing the basics of better eating.
Keeping these six tips in mind will not only help you make better choices for one meal but across your entire eating regimen.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Beefing up your intake of fruits and veggies (even canned, frozen and dried) is a step in the right direction when it comes to improving your health. Be sure to select healthier options like “no salt added” or “reduced sodium” canned veggies or fruits packed in water or 100 percent juice rather than syrup.
Got milk? Choosing fat-free or low-fat milk doesn’t mean you’re cheating yourself of milk’s valuable nutrients. But opting for the lighter choices does mean you’re cutting out fat and calories found in whole milk. Lactose-free, soy and other suitable replacements are recommended for the lactose intolerant among us.
Cut back on sugar. Sorry sweet tooth-ers, but it’s better for you. Try to drink more water or 100 percent juices instead of sodas and other sugary drinks. And munch on fruits instead of those oh-so-tempting sweet snacks.
Compare sodium content. Pay attention to nutrition labels and opt for lower sodium foods. Get creative when cooking and season foods with natural herbs and spices for a healthier meal that will awaken your taste buds.
Indulge less. While you don’t have to completely eliminate pizza and chocolate cake from your diet, it’s not healthy to make these things a go-to meal or treat every day. It will take some willpower at first, but over time you’ll crave them less.
Control your portions. This one is probably easier to do at home. The recommendation is to eat in so you’ll eat less–that is if you’ve got the willpower, of course. When eating out, go with healthy menu options and don’t be shy when asking for a to-go box if the restaurant portion looks too big.