So many of us struggle with healthy eating. Our lives are busy and often stressful, and it is easy to make food decisions based on convenience. Making changes to your dietary habits can seem overwhelming and you may not know where to start. But the simple truth is, the secret to good nutrition is mostly about following five basic rules that you can count on one hand and follow for the rest of your life.
- Drink water Start with 8oz right when you wake up. Add it to your morning routine. Then be sure to consistently drink water throughout the day. Find a fun, refillable water bottle that you can carry with you. Water helps flush out toxins in the body, promotes weight loss, and increases energy. A lot of times our bodies communicate that we’re hungry, when really we’re starting to dehydrate.
- Eat vegetables at every meal Your mom was right! Vegetables are a great way to get the most nutrients for the least amount of calories. Try swapping out carbs for vegetables in fun ways. For example, cauliflower rice instead of regular rice, zucchini noodles instead of regular noodles, and sliced bell peppers instead of chips.
- Meal plan When life gets busy we tend to make less healthy food choices. Creating a meal plan can help you start on target with eating right. Start by planning dinner each night of the week. Make sure to include restaurants and events in the plan. Work with members of your household and plan together so everyone can participate.
- Eat regularly Eating small meals throughout the day helps maintain blood sugar. No matter how busy you are, be sure to schedule refueling breaks in your daily schedule keeping healthy snacks on hand like low sugar granola bars, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
- Variety is the spice of life Look for different colors, spices, textures and smells. This ensures that you’re getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals and makes your food look and taste more appetizing. Different colors mean different vitamins and minerals. You should see a rainbow of color when looking at your plate.
If you can commit yourself to these steps, you will feel better, have more energy, and see a difference in how you move through your day. Remember all movement matters! Be sure to pair your step into better nutrition with actual steps on your pedometer. Energy in, energy out!
Katie Nickel is fitness director with the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Whitefish Bay.