Good nutrition is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. By making smart choices about what we eat, we can nourish our bodies, enhance our well-being, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Yes, we know that nutrition is important, but one thing we forget is that a well balanced diet can seem extremely daunting on those who's "bad" (I hate describing foods as good or bad, but you know what I mean here!) habits go back to childhood, those who have financial constraints or time limits.
This blog goes over 10 ways you can change your habits with relatively small changes. Try starting with just a few of these points, so you don't overwhelm yourself and that you set yourself up for success!
Eat a Balanced Diet
One of the fundamental pillars of good nutrition is consuming a balanced diet. Ensure that your meals incorporate a variety of food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. This will provide your body with a wide range of essential nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, that are vital for optimal health.
In a world of super-sized meals and oversized portions, it's easy to lose track of how much we're actually consuming. Practicing portion control is key to avoid overeating and maintain a healthy weight. Use smaller plates and bowls to help control your portions, and listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues. By being mindful of portion sizes, you can enjoy a variety of foods without overindulging. Here's an easy guide to figure out serving sizes!
Increase Fruit and Vegetable Intake
Fruits and vegetables are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Aim to incorporate a rainbow of colors into your diet by consuming at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. These nutrient-rich foods can boost your immune system, support healthy digestion, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Choose Whole Grains
Swap out refined grains for whole grains to enhance your nutritional intake. Whole grain products like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They help regulate blood sugar levels, promote satiety, and support digestive health. Aim to make at least half of your grain choices whole grains for optimal nutrition.
Reduce Added Sugars
Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to various health issues, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Minimize your intake of sugary beverages, processed snacks, and desserts. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally sweetened alternatives like whole fruits or indulge in homemade treats with reduced sugar content. Read food labels carefully, as added sugars can hide in unexpected places.
Limit Sodium Intake
High sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Reduce your consumption of processed foods, fast food, and canned soups, which are often high in sodium. Opt for fresh, whole foods, and use herbs, spices, or lemon juice to season your dishes instead of relying on salt. Gradually, your taste buds will adjust, and you'll appreciate the natural flavors of food. Don't take all sodium out of your system though, we need it in our diet for certain functions!
"A recent report from the WHO said that Canadians, on average, are consuming 9.1 grams of salt per day — nearly twice that recommended amount. " - Isabelle Gallant, CBC News, 2023
Health Canada and the expert scientific committees of Canada recommend consuming no more than 2,300 mg of salt per day. The Canadian Government sets targets to achieve an ideal limit of 1500 mg daily for middle-aged adults and recommends lower levels than this for most other aged groups.
Increase Water Intake
Staying properly hydrated is vital for your overall health. Water is essential for digestion, nutrient absorption, temperature regulation, and the elimination of waste from your body. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day and more if you engage in physical activity or live in a hot climate. Keep a reusable water bottle with you as a reminder to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Include Healthy Fats
Contrary to popular belief, not all fats are bad for you. Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, are an essential part of a balanced diet. They provide energy, support brain health, help absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and promote healthy skin. However, remember that fats are calorie-dense, so moderation is key. Incorporate them into your meals mindfully.
Cook at Home
Preparing meals at home gives you control over the ingredients and cooking methods, allowing you to make healthier choices. Cooking from scratch enables you to minimize processed foods, excessive salt, unhealthy fats, and added sugars in your diet. Experiment with new recipes, embrace whole foods, and involve your family in the cooking process. Not only will you nourish your body, but you'll also cultivate a love for nutritious meals.
Practice Mindful Nutrition
In our fast-paced world, we often rush through meals without truly savoring the experience. Slow down and practice mindful eating. Pay attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of your food. Chew slowly and take breaks between bites. By being present and tuned in to your body's hunger and fullness cues, you'll naturally eat until you're satisfied, preventing overeating and promoting better digestion.
Improving your nutrition is a journey that starts with small, consistent changes. By implementing these ten strategies, you can significantly enhance your nutritional intake and pave the way for a healthier lifestyle. Remember, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized nutrition advice, especially if you have specific dietary needs or medical conditions. Start today and embark on a path toward better health and well-being through improved nutrition.
*some parts of this blog were created with AI