Nicki Anderson: Try these tips for eating healthy during National Nutrition Month
By Nicki Anderson For The Sun March 5, 2012 6:52PM
Updated: April 23, 2012 1:03PM
March is National Nutrition Month, and for many, it can’t come soon enough. While a few dedicated folks have maintained their New Year’s healthy eating goals, others are wondering how they got away. If you’re looking to get your nutrition back on track, I’ve asked some nutrition experts to share their tips on eating healthy while providing a few of my personal favorites.
Registered dietician Katie Murtha, owner of RDKate Sports Nutrition Consulting in Naperville, believes that, if you focus on what you can’t eat, you’ll want it all the more.
“Whatever you believe you ‘can’t eat’ is what you will want,” Murtha said. “If in your mind all foods are a welcome part of your eating plan, it will be much easier to make those choices that are good for your body.
“Our bodies are very good at telling us exactly what we need and when. To learn how to listen, try to be mindful at meal time — enjoy the color, texture, mouth feel, and flavor of your foods. Pay attention to how foods feel in your body.”
Murtha also reminds us about the importance of eating breakfast, even if we’re not hungry in the morning.
“Not being hungry is not an excuse to skip breakfast,” she said. “Re-evaluate how much you eat late at night. Move one or two of those late-night servings to breakfast.”
Christine Palumbo, a registered dietician and adjunct faculty member at Benedictine University, shares a couple of tried-and-true tips.
“Ignore the often-repeated advice to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store when doing your shopping,” Palumbo said. “There are plenty of healthful options within its aisles. Where else would you find such pantry staples as pasta, barley, oats, broth, canned tomato products, nuts, beans and raisins?”
Palumbo also suggests a great way to reduce sugar in your pasta.
“If you cook pasta to a true al dente stage, its glycemic index is lower than if you had cooked it longer.”
Doreen Berard, a registered dietician and licensed dietician/nutritionist with Aramark at Edward Hospital Health Services, encourages us to focus on the quality of foods we’re eating.
“I see so many of my clients just counting calories without really paying attention to what makes up those calories,” Berard said. “For example, those little 100-calorie packs, though calorie controlled, there is little if any whole grains, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins.”
In addition to paying attention to the quality of foods we eat, Berard agrees with Murtha, about being more mindful not only of food choices but also when you’re eating.
“Many of us often eat while doing other things — getting ready for work, driving in the car, watching television, etc., and we really don’t appreciate how our food tastes (or doesn’t taste),” she said.
Kate Shultz attends Northern Illinois University and is a dietetic intern. Kate provides a definite “do” for those who eat on the run.
“I encourage packing nonperishable, easy-to-handle snacks in your bag, purse or backpack,” she said. “Healthy on-the-go snack options include whole grain granola bars, fresh fruit, and trail mixes made with nuts, dried fruits and whole grain cereals. By packing a healthy snack for when you’re in a time pinch, you can avoid the urge to stop and pick up a less-healthy fast food alternative.”
When you’re able to sit down, Shultz says it’s all about color.
“Color your plate! Try to fill half of your plate with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables at meals,” Shultz said. “Whether fresh, frozen or canned, they all count. However, when choosing canned vegetables or fruits, pick ‘reduced-sodium’ or ‘no-salt-added’ options to reduce salt content. Rinsing canned vegetables helps bring down the salt content, too.
“I always suggest choosing canned fruits packed in light syrups, 100 percent fruit juices, or water to avoid added sugar.”
My best kept secrets for keeping 50 pounds off for more than 30 years include, drinking water before a meal, never eating to the point of full, (only until you’re no longer hungry) and consuming your biggest meal in the morning while saving your lightest meal for the end of the day.
Unfortunately, fad diets are the common avenue people take to losing weight or getting back to healthy eating. If you’re looking to improve your health and attain and maintain a healthy weight, these nutrition experts serve up some solid ideas for you to include in a healthy eating plan.
Here’s to healthy eating!