National Nutrition Month is a great time to remind all of you about the importance of making informed food choices for health and good nutrition. We simply cannot achieve optimal health and put ourselves in the best position to prevent disease without proper nutrition. As Dr. Ann Wigmore said, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.”
Many Americans are still not fully informed about the realities of processed foods. They may know that wholesome fruits and vegetables, and whole grains are healthy choices, but beyond that it gets confusing. In a nutshell, processed foods are chemically processed, include artificial substances (additives, preservatives) and refined ingredients. They generally come in a box or jar, and can be high in fat, sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and sodium. And while they can make for a quick and easy meal, they lack fiber, whole grains, and other nutrients that our bodies need.
If you’ve ever done a cleanse or detox with a restricted diet, you probably noticed that after the first few days, you begin to experience an increase in energy. Pay attention as you eliminate processed foods from your food choices. You might even keep a log of your food intake and how your body feels. You could start to notice that headaches are less frequent. Perhaps your digestion improves. It could even be that your skin clears up and your complexion looks better! It is amazing how our food choices affect our health and body systems.
Considering the explosive growth of this industry over recent decades and our fast-paced lifestyles, boxed and canned food can be hard to avoid. However, being more informed and planning ahead can make all of the difference!
Making Food Choices for Health and Good Nutrition
When it comes to nutrition, I like to tell people to look at it this way: meet your nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits (and don’t forget daily exercise). Unfortunately, a majority of people don’t have a clue about their nutrient needs or how to get them. A certified nutritionist or registered dietitian can help you get informed about:
Which nutrients your body needs:
- Things like your age, health conditions, preferences, family history and routine all play a factor in your food choices for health and good nutrition.
Which foods contain these nutrients:
- Many people are completely unaware of the nutritional value of the food they consume. It’s not easy to know what is the truth and what is hype with so much conflicting information out there. Think about your food, learn where it comes from and how healthy it is for you. Generally, if you can grow it and pick it, it’s probably a good food choice. At least when talking about fruits and veggies. Here are some of the most beneficial veggies you might work into your more frequent choices.
Which foods fit and which don’t:
- Whole foods are pretty much a no-brainer, but it is easy to struggle making choices beyond that. I caution you not to believe everything you see on the front of packages. “All natural” doesn’t really mean much in today’s market. Instead, I advise that you check the Nutrition Facts panel for things like calorie, fat, sugar and salt content. Also, you can get a good idea if a food fits or doesn’t fit by looking at the ingredients list. The higher an ingredient is on that list, the more of that ingredient is included, compared to others that follow.
Notes of Caution
Sometimes those “no-brainers” also need further evaluation. Many fruits and vegetables are treated with herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals during their growing seasons, which leaves much of our supply contaminated — even after washing and peeling. Some of the biggest offenders are labeled the “dirty dozen” from EWG and include apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes, leafy greens, and hot peppers. I like to encourage people to buy organic whenever possible.
Also, the food and beverage industries don’t make it easy to stay within calorie limits today. Be mindful of serving sizes and be sure to balance your intake with your energy needs.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Message
Each year in March, the Academy promotes a return to the basics of healthy eating through National Nutrition Month. They once offered an equation that is simple and appeals to your common sense:
Healthy lifestyle = consume fewer calories + make informed food choices + get daily exercise
This is the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the risk of chronic disease and promoting overall health. After all, your health is the best investment you’ll ever make!
Need help? I encourage you to seek out a certified nutritionist to help you customize your food plan for health and good nutrition. In addition, Natural Healthy Concepts offers a wide variety of high-quality nutrition supplements to help you meet your nutritional needs that may be difficult to achieve through food alone.
One of the simplest things you might consider is adding a greens powder to your daily intake. At the very least, it’s a good supplement to have around on the days when you know you didn’t get in your 4-6 servings of veggies in a day! And bonus – a daily dose of a greens drink may improve your pH balance! One of our most popular (and tasty) greens powders is Dynamic Fruit & Greens Berry – one serving equals the antioxidant power of 20+ servings of fruits and vegetables.
Do you have a couple “go-to” supplements that help you meet your nutritional needs? Tell us your story!
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