National Nutrition Month 2020

Thrive through the transformative power of food + nutrition

March is National Nutrition Month! Good nutrition doesn't have to be restrictive or overwhelming, boo. 😘

Small goals + changes have a powerful cumulative effect + every little bite is a step in the right direction.

Include healthful foods from all food groups

Variety is the mack-daddy to make for-sure-for-sure that you're getting what you need from whole foods. Most fad diets restrict the variety of foods people eat + this leads to severely inadequate nutrition, not to mention they're too boring to sustain for very long.

Humans are natural omnivores, which means that we are biologically programmed to desire a wide variety of foods. Even someone who eats nothing but their favorite food for several days would eventually really want something else.

One way to increase the nutrient-dense + decrease calorie-dense variety is to focus eating high-carb foods in their minimally-processed form.

  • 🍓 Fresh fruit > dried fruit or juice

  • 🥣 Whole wheat pasta, brown rice or oatmeal > white pasta, white rice or dry cereal

  • 🥔 Yams, potatoes or beans > pretzels, french fries or fat free chips

Another way is to simply increase your veggies everyday until they equal the number of high-carb foods. So if you eat 7 servings of pasta, rice or french fries, you eat at least 7 servings of spinach, baked potato or black beans.

If you really wanna go HAM, you can even mix up your veggies with the 5 subgroups - beans/legumes, dark green, red/orange/yellow, starches + all others.

Hydrate healthfully

We talk so much about protein, carbs + fat that it's easy to forget about the *most important nutrient* - water. Water makes up 55-75% of your body weight + regulates everything from temperature to digestion to heart rate.

💦 In general, men need at least 12 cups of fluid daily + women need at least 9. (The elderly tend to be dehydrated since they are less active, less thirsty + often worry about incontinence.) Exercise, hot weather, low humidity, high altitude + high-fiber diets all increase your needs for additional fluid.

And yes - skim milk, 100% fruit juices + tea/coffee ALL COUNT! There's also a ton of water in watermelon, strawberries, soup + lettuce.

Here's how to get more water into your days:

  • 💧 Start your morning with a big glass of water

  • 💧 Carry a water bottle with you + refill it often

  • 💧 Always ask for water at restaurants

  • 💧 Infuse your water with fruit or herbs

  • 💧 Add a splash of fruit juice

  • 💧 Try club soda, seltzer or sparkling water

Learn how to read nutrition facts labels

Food manufacturers LOVE to put misleading claims on the front of packages about how "healthy" the food is inside of them. Shocker! Not everything that claims to be "whole grain" is actually made with whole grains - as long as 51% are whole, the company is allowed to make that claim on the package.

Whatever you do, don't ignore the label or miscount servings!

Here are 3 easy steps to know what you're buying + how to buy what you know:

  1. Look at the serving size + the number of servings in the whole package. Something might look like 1 serving but actually count as 2 or more

  2. Look at the calories per serving + see how it fits in your energy needs. (Typically women need 13-15 calories/pound while men need 16-19 calories/pound)

  3. Look at the saturated fat + sodium. Under 10% is great, over 20% is the RED ZONE

practice portion control

Trying to manage portion sizes can feel overwhelming sometimes. 20 years ago, a store-bought blueberry muffin weighed 1.5 ounces + were 210 calories. Today muffins weigh 5 ounces + are 500 calories - that's more than DOUBLE. Even plates, bowls + cups are bigger!

Do you know what healthful portions look like, bro?

  • 🚩 Beverages - a fist is ~1 cup

  • 🚩 Crackers + chips - a handful is ~1 ounce

  • 🚩 Baked goods - 2 fingers (or 1 small biscotti) is ~150 calories (1 palm is ~500 calories!)

  • 🚩 Meat - a deck of cards is ~4 ounces

The phenomenon of portions has been long-studied + there are some really neat-o things you can do to cut down, lower your calories + LOSE WEIGHT:

  • 🚩 Buy smaller plates + bowls

  • 🚩 Use dark colored plates to serve light colored food

  • 🚩 Use small spoons to serve casseroles, potatoes + desserts. Use large spoons to serve vegetables + fruit

  • 🚩 Use tall, slender glasses instead of short, wide glasses

  • 🚩 Cut large pieces of food into smaller, bite-sized pieces

  • 🚩 Begin your meal with a salad (better yet, fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies!)

  • 🚩 Order small sizes instead of super sizes

  • 🚩 Split dessert

  • 🚩 Serve home meals restaurant style (plate the food) instead of family style

  • 🚩 Chew food longer (you'll end up satisfied with less)

  • 🚩 Spray your dressing instead of pouring it

  • 🚩 Buy or put together 100 calorie snack bags

  • 🚩 Keep washed, ripe fruit available + ready-to-eat

take time to enjoy your food

We all know that WHAT we eat is important, but we often forget that HOW we eat is just as, if not MORE, important. Mindful eating is the first thing I address with all my clients - it gives your body the time it needs to feel satisfied with less.

All it takes is a little practice to recognize when your body is truly hunger + when it is full. It takes about 20 minutes for you to begin to feel your stomach get a little heavy, the flavors start to dull, your energy + focus increase, and a sense of boredom with the food in front of you.

When you take your time + listen to your body, eating becomes an act of self-care - not to mention that lots of research links mindful eating to weight loss! So get back to basics, serve yourself healthful portions + really listen to your body when it tells you what it needs.

Use a grocery list to shop for healthful foods

You've def heard this before - shopping from a list + sticking to it saves money at the grocery store.

Here's a few more tips to lower your bill come check out time:

  • 🛒 Buy oatmeal in bulk ($0.13/oz) instead of boxed cereal ($0.40/oz)

  • 🛒 Buy rice, pasta + potatoes in bulk ($0.06/oz compared to ($0.25-0.40/oz)

  • 🛒 Buy fresh fruit ($0.05/oz) instead of chips, crackers + cookies ($0.30/oz)

  • 🛒 Drink filtered tap water (free-ish + 0 sugar) instead of soda 12-packs ($4.99 + liquid obesity)

  • 🛒 Substitute beans + lentil ($0.05/oz + no saturated fat) instead of meat ($0.25/oz + high saturated fat)

If you haven't checked out my Supermarket Bootcamp, I compare the purchasing prices + nutritional values of every aisle. It's totally free + you can watch it at 💯  

Choose healthful recipes to make during the week

It's SO MUCH EASIER to come home + cook a healthy dinner when you know what you're going going to cook + that you have the ingredients ahead of time - especially when you're a busy family! Just a little bit of prep goes a looooong way!

Breakfast + snacks are easy because most of us keep the same staples around, like oatmeal, whole grain cereal, crackers fruit + milk. But what about planning a menu + preparing for times when the kids have tutoring + soccer practice?

  • 🍎 Ask family members when they like, then find simple ways to modify recipes to make them healthier

  • 🍎 Include lots of veggies + fruit in every meal (make veggies half the plate!)

  • 🍎 Make (or download) a grid with a row for each day of the week + columns for breakfast, lunch, snack + dinner

  • 🍎 Fill in dinner ideas FIRST. Try to use the same cooked or chopped items a few times OR double up the amount + freeze the extra

  • 🍎 Plan lunches. Try to use dinner leftovers

  • 🍎 Plan snacks. Mix up fruits, veggies, dips, yogurt + fruit to keep it interesting

  • 🍎 Plan breakfast. Find 3 breakfasts that are low fat, high fiber + protein, then rotate them to keep it interesting

  • 🍎 Make a list of what you need to buy at the grocery store

Trying to eat healthy + exercise when family life is hectic? I have a few tips for that too;)

  • 🏀 Make dinner + eat right after school. Yes, at 3:30 if it's 3:30! This leaves a couple of hours to digest before activities start

  • 🏀 Make tomorrow's lunches while you make dinner. For the love of God, don't wait until after you get home for the evening or the next morning

  • 🏀 Workout while your kids are practicing. Download an app that requires no equipment, find a small area + ignore anyone who might stare at you (they're just jealous) OR find a gym super-close to the location

  • 🏀 Have second dinner after practice. Keep it fast + light, maybe a smaller plate of what you served earlier

Moms, do you have any other tips that work for you? Please put them in the comments! 

plan healthful eating while traveling

When you have food allergies/sensitivities or a weakened immune system, eating out can be hard here in the US + we have strict labeling + sanitation laws. Eating while traveling internationally, where the regulations aren't as helpful, can be even more difficult.

Here are a few tips to help you take care of your body as you take care of your wanderlust:

  • 🌎 Let the airline know if you have any allergies

  • 🌎 Learn how to read + communicate your allergy in the native language

  • 🌎 Research traditional ingredients + staple meals of your destination

  • 🌎 Don't be shy! Ask about ingredients + cooking methods when unsure

  • 🌎 Bring non-perishable snacks with you. Focus on items that are high in fiber + protein

  • 🌎 Drink water + other beverages from bottled + sealed containers. Use ice only from bottled or disinfected water. Avoid tap or well water + fountain drinks made with tap or well water

  • 🌎 Avoid foods commonly linked to food poisoning - flavored ice, unpasteurized dairy products, bushmeats, food served at room temperature, raw/undercooked meat or fish, raw or soft eggs, unwashed or peeled veggies + fruit, and raw salads

  • 🌎 Stick to what's safe to eat - pasteurized dairy products, dry bread or crackers, hard-cooked eggs, cooked food served hot, food from sealed packages, veggies + fruit that YOU have washed or peeled, hot coffee + tea

  • 🌎 When eating street food, talk to the locals + ask for references. Observe general cleanliness. Choose vendors that have a lot of customers + avoid those where the same person serving food is handling money

keep healthful ingredients on hand

How much time + money does it cost to keep running to the store or going out to eat because don't have what you need or want in your pantry to eat at home?