March is National Nutrition Month. If you wish you made adopting healthier habits your New Year’s resolution (or you did, but you’ve already let your commitment slide), use the month of March to identify a few small but impactful changes to your diet to improve your overall wellness. People who consume diets packed with healthy nutrients and that are low in calories and processed foods benefit from lower cholesterol, more durable immune systems, lower risk of cancer and heart disease, and healthier body weights. Celebrate National Nutrition Month with these five, easy-to-adopt health hacks.
1. Drink More Water.
Water is not only critical for maintaining optimal health, but it also has zero calories. Imagine how many empty calories you can cut from your day by merely swapping sweet sodas, sugary coffee drinks, energy beverages, and alcohol for water. The average adult needs to drink half their body weight in water in ounces daily as a baseline, and then more if they are active and losing water through sweat. For example, a 190-pound male should consume 80 ounces or about ten eight-ounce glasses of water daily.
To help you get your daily allotment of H2O, drink a glass of water before every meal. Keep a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day, ensuring you are drinking water while working, working out, and relaxing at home, and of course, swap unhealthy soda for cold, refreshing water.
2. Never be Without Heart-Healthy Staples in Your Refrigerator and Pantry.
If you always have healthy snacks and meal components on hand, you will be less likely to snack on unhealthy chips, cookies, and candy, or resort to fast food drive-thrus on your way home from work. A healthy kitchen should always have the following items on hand:
- Salad greens
- Frozen vegetables
- Brown rice
- Canned tuna, salmon, or sardines
3. Go Vegetarian at Least One Day a Week
Increasing your vegetable intake and reducing your meat intake will help you reduce fat and calories and boost nutrients and fiber. Shifting to a vegetarian diet one day a week also decreases the risk of:
- Heart failure
- Heart disease and stroke
4. Eat Five or Six Small Meals Each Day
It may be common to eat three big meals each day, but the latest research shows that eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day improves weight loss and wellness. More frequent, smaller meals can help keep your metabolism in motion throughout the day, which can help you burn calories and stay fit.
5. Identify Your Struggle Areas and Focus on Them First
Many of us have just one of two unhealthy habits that, over time, lead to unhealthy weight gain or poor nutrition. Assess your daily habits and ask what you can do to improve your wellness. For example, if you tend to snack on salty, processed foods before bedtime, or rely on fast food for lunch, or drink several sugary coffee drinks every day, try to replace those habits with better choices for immediate, impactful results.
Remember that achieving weight loss and improved health is not about dieting. It’s about lifestyle changes and habits that you can maintain long term. Start with these health hacks and use them as a foundation to build wellness improvements that will enable you to achieve your goals.