March is National Nutrition Month, which is a great time to focus on making healthy choices a part of our everyday lives. This year’s theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” focusing on the idea that every bite, snack, and meal counts, and that each is an opportunity to make a healthy choice. Taking advantage of these opportunities and making small changes in our food choices and eating habits over time, can make it easier to adopt and maintain an overall, healthier lifestyle.
This month, try one of these simple strategies to Put Your Best Fork Forward in adopting and enjoying healthy eating habits this year.
- Fuel up with breakfast. Start off on the right foot each day with a nutritious morning meal. Eating breakfast provides you with the energy you need to start your day and is a great opportunity to fit in a serving of fruit or vegetables. Try topping whole grain toast with sliced avocado, tomatoes and a fried egg, or a scoop of low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit. Not very hungry in the morning? Start out with something simple like a hard-boiled egg or a piece of fruit.
- Pack a snack. Avoid an afternoon trip to the vending machine or a cruise through the drive-thru on your way home by keeping healthy snacks on hand. Oftentimes, when we let ourselves get too hungry, we turn to less than stellar options. Keeping a tin of nuts in your desk drawer, throwing an apple in your backpack, or stashing a granola bar in your glove box means you will always be prepared with a healthy snack when hunger hits.
- Go for whole grain. Opt for whole wheat bread, pasta, and flour, and brown rice and snacks made with whole grain. Whole grain products can come off tasting strong and may take some time to get used to, so start small and “go halfsies.” Swap half of the white flour in a brownie recipe for whole wheat, try a 50/50 combination of regular and whole wheat pasta or mix together equal parts brown and white rice for a stir-fry.
- Plan meals. Decide on, or at least brainstorm, what you will eat for the next day or week. Planning your meals and snacks gives you the opportunity to prep them ahead of time and can help prevent the “what’s for dinner?” dilemma or the all-too-common default decision of takeout. When you make a plan, you are more likely to choose healthier options and stick to them. Start by planning one or two meals for the week, and then up your meal plan game from there.
- Sign up for a nutrition consult. While there are many food and nutrition guidelines out there for a healthy diet, every individual is different and may have different needs and goals. Take action to get personalized recommendations and nutritional guidance to help you reach your health-related goals through a free personalized nutrition consult offered by Health Promotion and Wellness. See additional information below.
Questions about nutrition?
Health Promotion and Wellness offers free, individual diet analysis and nutrition guidance for those striving to improve their lifestyle. Faculty, staff, and students can meet one-on-one with the Health Promotion and Wellness nutritionist in a confidential setting at no cost.
Participants need to complete a three-day food diary and a health questionnaire available online prior to their nutrition consult. Forms may be returned via email, by campus mail to 2120, by fax to (309) 438-5003, or by hand delivery to the main Health Promotion and Wellness office in 187 McCormick Hall.
Health Promotion and Wellness also provides presentations for campus groups and organizations. Please call our office at (309) 438-WELL (9355) to request this service.