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Knowing that nutrition is important and having good eating habits are two very different things.  Changing your diet to be healthier can feel overwhelming.

March is National Nutrition Month, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the 2017 theme is ‘Put Your Best Fork Forward’.  The idea is that by starting small (one forkful at a time), you’ll be able to build lasting changes that become sustainable, healthy habits.

Eat a Rainbow

A good rule of thumb is that the more (natural) colors you are eating the better and more nutrients you are receiving. Daily recommendations are for five servings of vegetables and four servings of fruit.  Too often we associate healthy eating with denying ourselves. Nine servings of fruit and vegetables is actually a lot of food.  Find what you like to eat and don’t be afraid to try new things.  Fruits and vegetables can be a fun way of experimenting with healthier ingredients.  Per the theme, maybe try one new fruit or vegetable a week.  As we enter into warmer months, more local produce becomes available. Stop by your local farmer’s market, where they can offer new suggestions and ideas.

Mindful Eating

We hear about being present in our lives and that is extremely important when it comes to eating. Not only does distracted eating tend to lead to overeating, you are also denying yourself the opportunity to truly enjoy your food.  The experience of eating should feed our minds as well as our bodies. Pay attention to what you’re eating (as well as who you’re eating with – devices down).

Everything in Moderation

A common nutrition pitfall is denying yourself completely of anything that you think might be “bad”.  At the minimum, this can make you feel guilty about what you’re eating and often can lead to overindulgence if you “break”.  Instead of denying your cravings, allow them – in moderation.  Having a small amount will help satisfy the craving and allow you to keep moving forward with those small steps.

Read Labels

The fewer chemicals in your food the better. But also watch out for too much of natural items such as salt and sugar.  Both can be bit sneaky additives to a whole array of food where you wouldn’t expect it. By reading labels, you can make smarter choices and not unintentionally eat too much salt and sugar.

Water, Water, Water

Water makes up over half of our body and by the time we start to feel thirsty, we are already starting to become dehydrated. One of the best things that you can do for yourself and one of the easiest small changes to make is to drink more water.  Having enough water helps keep your body balanced and functioning; maintains your energy and concentration; enhances skin appearance and can prevent overeating.

Spring Clean

Spring is the time for renewal and refreshing. Why not give your pantry and refrigerator a Spring cleaning?  Start with the easiest thing – expiration dates. If you have anything lurking that is well past its prime, now is the time to clean it out.  Next take a hard look, using the above recommendations. It may be time to say goodbye to food that isn’t a best match for your goals.

As with anything, knowledge is power. Once you have the information, you can make smart choices about the best food to fuel you.  While there are general best practices, everyone’s body is different. Make sure to eat and drink the items and amounts that are right for you.  After all, the main goal is to feel your best to be able to enjoy your life.  Let’s all raise our forks to National Nutrition Month!

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