By Karen Rettich
March is National Nutrition Month. It seems like as good a time as any to get healthy. But admittedly this can be easier said than done. With busy schedules, kids, pets, stressful jobs we all have a lot on our plates and it isn’t always what is best for us. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have themed this year’s National Nutrition Month “eat right, your way every day.” I think that really sums up getting to a healthy life style. How many people do you know who are yo-yo dieters? Or people who start an exercise routine fit for a tri-athlete only to give up within days or weeks? The best way to get healthy and stay healthy is to find what works for you.
Let’s start with diet. You might want to try keeping a diet diary. I tried this a few years ago and was surprised at how badly I was eating. At the end of a week I had consumed enough salt-laden potato chips to create my own salt pond and about three fruits. It is a good way to see exactly what you are eating. Once you see what you are doing you can pin point what needs to change. Then take baby steps. If you love potato chips, and I understand completely, don’t deprive yourself. Allow yourself a small portion with your lunch or have some as a treat once in awhile. The more you deny yourself something you enjoy the more you will crave it and the greater the chance you will fail at getting on the right diet track.
Enjoy your food just try smaller portions. One great trick is having smaller dinner plates. A full plate tricks the brain and the stomach into feeling “full” even if the portion is smaller than what you are used to. Another great tip, if you are like me, and love fruit juice try adding seltzer and cutting the amount of juice in half. Fruit juice has added sugar you don’t need. Replace at least one glass of soda or fruit juice a day with a glass of water. Add a slice of lemon to your water to give it some natural flavor. Keep replacing your soda or juice with water until all you want is water.
Eating well on a budget can seem tough. These days it is cheaper to grab a Happy Meal then to buy fresh produce but if you pay attention to what is in season you can create dinner menus using the least expensive produce. Also try stocking up on frozen vegetables when they go on sale. If you have them on hand it is easy to add them to your dinner. Stay to the perimeter of the grocery store. Most of what you really need is in the produce, meat and fish and dairy departments. Only shop the inner aisles for things you really need. Make a list and stick to it. Eating healthy on a budget isn’t as daunting as it seems. And once you get used to shopping the perimeter you’ll start to wonder why you didn’t shop that way sooner, you save time and money!
One of the things my husband and have always done is keep a garden in the summer. We always grow tomatoes and cucumbers and have even started a strawberry patch and asparagus. Lettuce of all kinds is also a staple. It really doesn’t take a big yard or a green thumb. You can start a garden with large containers placed in a sunny spot of your yard or on your deck. Over the years we have tried lots of different vegetables and a few fruits. We have figured what we will really eat and what grew ripe and fell off the vine for lack of desire to actually eat it. You can try your local garden center for tips and advice on starting any kind of garden. Nothing tastes better then a big salad made with everything you pulled from your own garden!
Start slow, be kind to yourself and use the 21 rule. Any activity done 21 times consecutively becomes a habit. Add healthy food to your diet. Add some exercise. If you don’t like exercise try finding a friend who can work with you and encourage you. Just don’t pick the friend who just finished a marathon. Pick the friend who likes to walk or is just beginning an exercise routine. Having someone to work out with is more motivating and let’s face it just more fun! Before beginning any diet or exercise regime always consult your physician.
If you have any questions call the Berlin VNA at (860) 828-7030