Breaking Down the Basics to a Healthy, Sustainable Diet

NUTRITION

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By Amber Worthen, RD, LDN, NASM-CPT

It’s National Nutrition Month! Let’s break it down to the basics of what a healthy, sustainable diet consists of.

The first thing to note is that eating healthy does NOT mean feeling hungry, deprived, or sluggish. Eating healthy should give you more energy, make you feel great, and provide you with all the nutrients you need.

Hydration

Did you know you should aim to consume half your bodyweight in ounces of water every day? Many people do not reach this goal of hydration, though it is such a critical part of overall health. Start slow, and make your way up to your goal. Having a reusable water bottle on hand to keep filling up and drinking from is a great way to keep reminding yourself to drink your water.

Fruits and Vegetables

There is more and more research coming out about the benefits of a plant based diet. Not only are fruits and vegetables high in many of the vitamins and minerals you need for proper nutrition, but they also help reverse and prevent disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, arterial blockage, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Aim to include 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet daily. Not sure of where to start? Try including one serving of produce at each meal. For example, fruit with your breakfast, side salad with your lunch, add extra vegetables to your pasta sauce for dinner. Try roasting, steaming, sautéing, or spiraling for a twist on your typical vegetable! Incorporating more produce will increase your fiber intake, allowing for proper bowel function, in addition to all the benefits named above.

Protein

Do you feel that you’re getting enough protein? Protein comes from many different foods, including meat, eggs, fish, dairy, beans, soy, and whole grains. Protein feeds the muscles, and helps to slow down digestion for satiety. A good general number is to aim for 20-30 grams of protein at every meal. Paired with healthy fat and fiber, it makes a quality meal!

Healthy Fats

Fats help to give our body energy and support cell growth. They are higher in calories per gram (9 to be exact), compared to carbs and protein, which are only 4 calories per gram. Consuming fats allow our bodies to absorb fat soluble vitamins and produce important hormones. Focus on healthy fats by consuming fatty fish twice per week, fatty fish include salmon, albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, lake trout, and sardines. Aim for 1 oz of unsalted nuts per day.

Fiber
Focusing on fiber helps to promote good bowel health in addition to keeping you feeling full for longer. You can find fiber in foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Nutrition should be something that is enjoyable and sustainable. You should not feel deprived, or starving. I love looking up fun recipes online to make new healthy dishes that I know will be satisfying and delicious. Try skinnytaste.com or livinghealthywithchocolate.com for some great ideas!


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