March is National Nutrition Month! The campaign theme this year, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite”. Proper nutrition, fitness, and a healthy mind are crucial to maximizing physical and mental health each day. While the NAC is a great place to learn to balance these three areas of life, most people find it harder at home and work where one is spending most of their time. The way your environment is set up alone can promote changes in diet and activity whether good or bad. Here we want to highlight some simple changes that can boost nutrition, fitness and health around the clock!
Start at the grocery store: write a list of the foods you need for the week and stick to it. If they aren’t in the house, you aren’t going to eat them.
Prep healthy snacks: Even if you aren’t a food prep expert, chopping carrots and peppers ahead of time increases your chances of eating them. Any food that takes work is going to sound less desirable at the end your day. Similarly, prep big salads. If there is a big bowl with washed lettuce and chopped veggies, it’s easier to have before dinner. Just cover with a paper towel and press n’ seal wrap so it doesn’t spoil.
Relocate snack foods: look around your kitchen or other dining areas – do you see snack foods right away? Bread on the counter? Put these foods away and replace them with healthier options that you want to see! If they are in front of you, you’ll choose them over the snacks in the pantry. Ideas like keeping fruit on the counter or kitchen island and putting trail mix in candy bowls are helpful.
Relocate produce: While bowl of fruit on the counter helps, many people tell me they will only eat cold fruit. If this is you, put the fruit at eye level in the fridge! Many people go to the refrigerator when bored and what one sees first is more likely to be eaten. Also rearrange vegetable storage. Put meats and cheeses in drawers and keep vegetables in front of you so they stay on your mind. This is also shown in research to reduce food waste!
Stop eating family style: Leave food on the stove or counter and plate it before sitting down. When food is in front of you, you’re more likely to take seconds. Know someone will still be hungry? Put only vegetables on the table so the extra helping is of a nutrient dense food.
Eat without distractions: Make a rule in your home that there is no eating with the TV on, and no smart phones or magazines are allowed at the table. When we eat with distractions, we are less satisfied from meals because we barely notice, or taste, what we have taken in!
Only wear workout clothes to workout: As Americans we are now conditioned in 2020 to wear yoga pants and Lululemon tops all day long. Make a rule that if you put them on, you have to exercise!
Store “emergency snacks”: For those weeks that you didn’t food prep, days you left lunch on the counter, and meetings that last too long, emergency snacks are key! Here are some of my top recommendations: flax crackers w/ jar of PB & fruit preserves, plain instant oat packets, nuts, trail mixes, roasted chickpeas, unsweetened dried fruit, bars like KIT’s, Larabar, KIND, ProBar.
Keep a reusable water bottle: People complain when I tell them how much water they should drink and then say how they drink 4 cups of coffee a day at work. Water boosts metabolism and productivity while decreasing appetite. Having a reusable bottle or cup with goals of how many to drink can increase intake and energy levels.
Don’t eat at your desk: Being away from your computer and work increases mindfulness while eating. This means you’ll be more satisfied with your meal or snack, and therefore less likely to want to eat soon after.
Stand up once an hour: Just getting up to stretch once an hour improves not only metabolism but also mental clarity and productivity.
Walk to the farthest bathroom: Every step counts! If you walk further to the bathroom you get to clear your mind a little more and keep your body moving longer.
Sit on a balance ball: Hunched over at your desk all day long? Try a balance ball! It is hard to have bad posture when on it and it also engages your core.