Did you know that every March since the 1970s we have been celebrating National Nutrition Month? For those in a healthcare profession, this is a time when extra emphasis is placed on nutrition education and getting the message out to you. How can you get the most out of National Nutrition Month? Make it a time to take an annual inventory of your nutrition habits. Are you fueling your body the way you should?
If this is the first time you have taken inventory, focus on just a few areas. I will help you narrow it down by starting with beverages, snacks, and dining out. Do you select the healthiest choices in these areas?
What is sitting on the corner of your desk or in the cup holder in your car? Soda, coffee, water? If you are a soda drinker, consider what you can do to cut back. A 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 150 calories. If you drink one can every day, you consume 4,200 calories from soda each month, or 50,400 calories each year. This is equal to an extra 14-1/2 pounds of body weight.
What are you adding to your coffee? Frequent Starbucks consumption, or adding cream and sugar to your coffee, means extra calories expanding your waistline. Positive steps towards being healthier include using nonfat dairy creamers, less sugar and cream, or adding sugar substitutes to your coffee instead. Save dollars and calories by brewing coffee at home and have Starbucks for the occasional treat.
If you are toting around a bottle of water, you are doing great. Everyone should be consuming six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Water is the beverage our bodies need and crave to keep us replenished and feeling our best.
Are you heading for the vending machine for your afternoon snack? Most vending machines contain high-fat and high-sodium products. Forgo the Swiss cakes by bringing snacks to work with you. You know you are going to have an afternoon craving, so plan ahead. Some good snack choices include fruit, yogurt, crackers and cheese, or a handful of nuts.
Is the drive-through lane your destination several evenings after a long day of work? Most fast food is deep-fried and includes significant amounts of fat, calories, and sodium. If you are tired and do not want to deal with cooking a meal at home, you can select healthier options at the drive through. Opt for products that are not breaded, such as a grilled chicken sandwich. Forgo the fries and get a yogurt, salad, or fruit to go with your sandwich. Your heart will thank you.
Just remember when March rolls around next year to take another inventory. Expand to other areas, such as fruit and veggie intake, omega-3s, whole grains, etc. If you evaluate how you are doing every year and make modifications, you are taking the steps you need to live a healthy long life.