March celebrates National Nutrition Month and it is the perfect time to revamp our eating habits. The months of November through February have us indulging in larger meals, sweet treats and simple carbohydrates that can wreak havoc on our health. Each month has a special holiday with all of the special holiday traditions that come along with them. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve/Day and Valentine’s Day are all great times to celebrate family, love, thankfulness and new beginnings. However, if you’re not mindful with your choices, you can add unwanted pounds and put yourself at risk for chronic disease and seasonal sickness. Yes, what we eat can positively or negatively affect our immune system! Let’s all celebrate National Nutrition Month by implementing a few simple changes.
Tip 1: Buy in season produce: This year, spring clean your food pantry and refrigerator with in season, locally grown (when possible) foods to ensure peak freshness. Some examples of springtime produce to look for are: apricots, green beans, honeydew melons, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, butter lettuce, squash, collard greens, peas, pineapple, mangos, spinach, strawberries, Swiss chard, blueberries and Vidalia onions. Aside from freshness, other benefits you glean from eating in season produce include cheaper costs, better flavor, year-round variety and supporting your local farmer. Most farmers are willing to share information on their farms such as whether or not they are using organic practices. Don’t be afraid to ask!
Tip 2: Grow your own: Growing your own fruits and vegetables ensures you know whether or not your foods were grown with or without pesticides or other unhealthy substances, enables you to eat your produce before any nutrient degradation has taken place, reduces waste from spoiled foods, and saves you money on gas and produce. Perhaps best of all, you get to plant exactly what you know your family will eat. There are many options available such as raised bed, container, square foot and hanging gardens. If you’re not into dirt and bugs, have limited time or space, physical limitations or don’t have a “green thumb”, a vertical, aeroponic garden is a great option for you. They can be sustainably grown in or outdoors, reduce your carbon footprint and can be grown year round with little time or effort. Whatever option you choose, you can be assured that you are taking steps to a healthier tomorrow.
Tip 3: Revamp your recipes: Avoiding overly processed foods and replacing them with clean eating options is much easier than one might think. Ditch the refined grains and opt for whole grains. If you are gluten sensitive, there are more and more gluten free options available. However, be wary of replacing one highly processed food for another that is gluten free. If you are limiting starchy carbohydrates, squash and zucchini noodles are another great way to get in plant based nutrition and up your intake of healthy fiber. Fiber is beneficial for blood sugar control, heart health and weight control. You can replace high fat animal proteins for leaner versions or plant proteins such as beans, legumes, seeds and nuts. Add in more vegetables to your meals such as adding fresh or frozen versions to your soups, stews and pasta dishes. If you would like help with revamping some of your favorite boxed foods into homemade or changing your own recipes, I am available for consultation.