Happy New Year! This past year went by in the blink of an eye. Are we all ready for a fantastic and healthy 2018? This post may seem super basic to some of you, but it never hurts to have a refresher of what our bodies need. Before I go into the basics for the average person, remember that every body is different and has different needs. What works for me may not work for my best friend, but these reminders are the absolute basics.
- Eat fruits and vegetables.
This one seems so simple yet many of Americans are not getting enough of them! Fruits and veggies are packed with tons of vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber. We need all these nutrients for the metabolic process in our bodies, and the fiber helps our digestion. Fiber keeps us “regular”, if ya know what I mean. This is very important as it can help prevent diverticular disease. Interesting fact: Diverticular disease generally begins with diverticulosis, which is essentially pouches in your intestines. It then can become inflamed from non-fibrous foods getting stuck in the pouches leading to diverticulitis. Untreated diverticulitis can lead to a number of things, including colon cancer, which is the #3 cancer found in both men and women. Eating fiber can help push your food though the intestines quickly so minimal residue gets stuck in those pouches.
Have a hard time eating fruits and veggies and want a tip? Eat the ones you like! It is as simple as that. If you can only tolerate broccoli with cheese sauce, then add cheese to your dish! Only like carrot sticks with ranch dressing? Go ahead and use it. Be mindful when using these added dips because they do contain extra fat and calories, but if it helps you get the roughage down, do it! Try to get at least 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Make at least half of grains 100% whole grains.
This one may be difficult if you are used to eating refined, white enriched products; that is why the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that half of your daily whole grain intake be 100% whole grain. How do we know if we are eating 100% whole grain? Read the nutrition label. The thing to keep an eye out for should be “100% whole grain” as the first ingredient.
Whole grains are important because they contain a lot of B vitamins, which are essential for many metabolic pathways in the body. They also contain fiber, which I mentioned before being great for digestion. I challenge you to try and make half of you grain servings whole grain today. The dietary guidelines recommend women get 3-6 servings of whole grains daily. For men, it is recommended to consume 4-8 servings of whole grain.
- Add in some healthy fats.
But wait, fat makes you fat! WRONG!! This could not be more far from the truth. Our bodies need fat for producing hormones, transporting fat-soluble vitamins, and helping the brain function—just to name a few. The body needs 2 essential fatty acids: linoleic acid and linolenic acid.
Linoleic acid is more commonly known as omega-6 fats which is found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Linolenic acid is omega-3 fats and is found in fish, walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil, and soybean oils. These are polyunsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats are great for the body too. These fats are found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts. Try to incorporate these into your meals and snacks in moderation. Fatty foods are high in calories so we do not need to eat as many of them because they provide satiety.
Ah, yes. This is one of my favorite things to emphasize! I believe diet is just as important, especially since I am a registered dietitian and spent many years studying nutrition. However, you cannot do one without the other! Americans are known for living sedentary lifestyles and developing heart disease and diabetes. Guess what? These diseases can be prevented by diet and exercise.
How can we make it a part of our lifestyle? The biggest tip I can give you is do something you enjoy and can stick with it. It can become hard in the craziness of life, but it can be done. Scheduling time for exercise is the best way to meet your goals. It takes 21 days to build a habit, so try it and see how it works! Check out my blog on “Being Active with a Busy Schedule” for more tips.
- Drink Water.
After all, our bodies are at least 60% water. It is important that we replenish our bodies with water because we lose a lot of it when we use the bathroom, sweat, and breathe. Drinking 64 ounces every day can help ensure we are getting enough water.
Be weary of extra beverages like soda, juice, and alcohol. They are all full of empty calories and sugar that do nothing for our bodies except add energy—energy that we do not need. If you like drinking these, use them sparingly. If you are a coffee drinker, do not exceed 4 cups (because of the caffeine levels), and be careful with all of the added sugars. Coffee acts as a dehydrator for our body, so drink extra water if you do choose coffee.
Having said all of this, I am also an avid believer in enjoying life, and one of those pleasures is food. Enjoy special treats on occasion–it is ok! Your body can handle it. Just make sure that you incorporate healthful options in your diet on the regular.
I hope my take on “Healthy Living 101” helps some of you as you begin your journey in 2018. If you have any further questions or topics you would like me to blog about, comment down below or on Facebook. Share this post to spread the news!