By: Melissa Foor, Clinical Nutrition Manager and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at OrthoIndy Hospital
You know that New Year’s resolution you made? The one you may or may not have worked on the past few months? Well, what better time to get back to those healthy habits you pledged than National Nutrition Month?
This March, the theme for National Nutrition Month is ‘Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.’ When I picture this theme, I see myself biting into a crisp red apple. However, it doesn’t have to be an apple; it can be any fruit or vegetable. The picture I am trying to paint in your mind is that in order to bite into a healthier lifestyle, you should eat more fruits and vegetables.
Why? Primarily, because research has shown that consuming fruits and vegetables can help lead to a decreased risk of disease; especially diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Secondly, fruits and vegetables are low in calories and often filled with fiber and water. They’re a great choice to help fill you up when you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight.
The first step you can take to eat more fruits and vegetables is to up your current intake by one serving. The following is a good rule of thumb for judging portion sizes: a medium sized whole fruit, one half cup for cut vegetables and fruit, one cup for leafy vegetables and one fourth cup of dried fruit for one serving. Examples include: one cup of raw spinach, half a cup of blueberries or a quarter cup of raisins.
Branch out and try new fruits and vegetables with different preparations. There are so many resources and recipes online that will help you find flavor combinations and cooking methods that you can enjoy. Some of the websites I frequent and favorite recipes include:
Frosty Marbled Yogurt Dessert & Pork Chops in Country Onion Gravy
Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” & Spinach Frittata
Grilled Eggplant & Tomato Stacks & Spinach Ravioli with Zucchini Ribbons
You can also apply ‘Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle’ to any food you may want to eat. There are no bad foods, just bad portion sizes. You hear the phrase ‘all in moderation’ fairly frequently, but it really is what dietitians advise when it comes to the foods you eat.
The key to eating foods that may be more calorie-filled, without as many nutrients, is to try to find that balance. Rather than eating the whole sleeve of cookies, try to savor each bite of a normal portion size of one or two. Fill up on foods with a lot of nutrients such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains so you won’t be as tempted to eat more than one serving of those cookies in one sitting.
Additionally, consider ‘bites’ of exercise, aiming for two or three 10-minute ‘portions’ to get your heart rate up. This can include walking briskly outside, a quick 10-minute jog, body weight exercises, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), 10 minutes of Zumba or really anything that gets you moving. Research has shown that physical activity can lower disease risks, improve mood and help maintain a healthy weight. Nobody ever ends his or her exercise saying, “I wish I didn’t work-out.”
There is no magical pill, drink, machine or food that is the key to having great health. What can help is to include nutrient-rich foods and physical activity. Enjoy each bite you take, by taking your time while eating. Make your meals an experience that you enjoy. Focus on making your lifestyle healthier, not just trying to follow a short-term diet.
How do you stay healthy? Share your tips below!
Melissa Foor is the current Clinical Nutrition Manager and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at OrthoIndy. Melissa is responsible for the nutrition management of all inpatients at OrthoIndy Hospital as well as assisting in management of the Food Services department. She graduated with her master of science in dietetics from Eastern Illinois University in 2014 while completing her internship at St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham, IL. Melissa attended Michigan State University from 2008-2012 graduating with a bachelor of science in dietetics. She has been with OrthoIndy since December 2014.