National Nutrition Month and the Power of Wellness
National Nutrition Month is an annual celebration of nutrition and the important role that food plays in our bodies. It promotes education and awareness around a national campaign that focuses heavily on making informed food choices and developing better eating and exercising habits!
This year, National Nutrition Month kicks off with a focus on Mindful Eating. Mindful eating can seem intimidating but all it boils down to is being more conscious of what you are consuming. It helps to bring focus to the benefits of making better food choices and to create a mindset affirming that what we are eating really does fuel our bodies, which ultimately leads to a positive relationship with the food we eat.
When life gets busy and hectic, healthy eating often becomes an afterthought. The goal of Mindful Eating is to try and reverse this habit while learning to appreciate food. Practice mindfulness while eating with some of the following tips:
- Eat meals at a table instead of on the couch. Foods eaten in other areas tend to decrease meal time because of distractions that can be associated with those areas.
- At meal time, make the meal the main attraction. Avoid using your phone, computer and other electronics to ensure food awareness.
- Take your time when eating. Enjoy all the characteristics of your food like how it looks, feels, and smells. Doing this before you start eating will help increase mindfulness.
- Give yourself a chance to feel satisfied. Eating slowly can increase satisfaction of food. When you are satisfied, stop eating.
Maintaining mindfulness and awareness of your food is a great start to leading a healthy life. Once you have created a positive relationship with food, try increasing the nutritional value of the food you are eating. For example, if you eat cereal bars for breakfast, try swapping those for a whole food such as oatmeal with fresh fruit on top. This may take time but it is a very important step in moving towards a healthier you.
It’s important to remember that staying mindful goes beyond just food and should be applied to beverage choices as well. Drinking water helps our bodies maintain its pH balance and temperature while helping to prevent problems such as constipation, heartburn and kidney stones. The rule of eights is often used when determining how much water to drink in a day, and states drinking 8oz of water, 8 times a day is adequate. This rule may differ based on factors such as weight, height, and activity factors. Despite knowing water is always the healthiest beverage option, many Americans find it difficult to meet the suggested amount of water intake every day. Here are some tips to get you drinking more water:
- Always have water with you!
Carrying water with you at all times is a very simple but effective way of increasing daily consumption of water. Having a large water bottle (24oz-32oz) encourages you to drink water often and instead of interrupting your task to go get water. Try using a reusable water bottle to minimize waste!
- Swap alternative drinks (sodas, fruit juices, etc.) for water
Sugar sweetened beverages may taste great but they also contain a lot of sugar which has been linked to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Most sugar sweetened beverages have little to no positive health effects. Swapping water for such beverages can help reduce overall caloric intake and can lead to weight loss.
- Try fruit infused water
If you don’t like drinking water because of the lack of flavor, try fruit infused water, its simple! Just add your favorite fruit to 16 oz of water for a healthy alternative to sugar sweetened beverages. Here are some recipes for fruit infused water: http://www.infusedwaters.com/
- Set reminders for yourself
Set many reminders throughout the day to encourage you to drink more water. Using a water bottle labeled with times on the side helps you keep on track with how much water you should be taking in.
- Set goals for yourself
Setting goals for yourself is essential. The rule of eights is a good starting goal and totals to 64oz of water a day. When setting goals, you want them to be SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Based). A good example of a SMART goal would be: To increase water intake to 64 oz a day for one week by using a labeled water bottle to measure intake.