The month of March ushers in the beginning of spring, St. Patrick’s Day, and sometimes, the Easter and Passover holidays—but did you know that in the U.S., March is also considered National Nutrition Month? An annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the mission of National Nutrition Month is to encourage more informed food choices and healthier eating habits. No matter your current diet, it seems that there is always room for improvement when it comes to healthy eating—and adopting a better diet carries a variety of benefits, including a lower risk of obesity and chronic diseases, better mood and energy levels, improved memory, stronger bones, and more. To harness these benefits, celebrate National Nutrition Month by following these simple steps to healthier eating
- Slow down. Healthy eating is not just about what you eat, but how you eat it. As you consume a meal, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive signals that you’re full—so slowing down your pace can give your brain adequate time to process these signals and help you avoid eating more than you need. In fact, studies indicate that people who eat quickly are up to 115 percent more likely to be obese than slower eaters.
- Opt for whole grains. Whether you’re baking or simply having a piece of toast, swapping out refined grains for whole grains is an easy way to improve your diet, without depriving yourself of your favorite carbs. Whole grains are a rich source of nutrients—from fiber and B vitamins to important minerals like iron and zinc—and have been linked to a reduced risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
- Boost your protein intake. Often referred to as the “king of nutrients,” protein offers several benefits that can have a positive impact on your overall well-being. For example, protein—which is found in abundance in sources like eggs, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, beans, and lean meat—can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time, curb cravings, and reduce the tendency to overeat. In addition, protein helps you retain muscle mass, which can thereby boost your metabolism.
- Choose healthier cooking methods. While grilling, frying, and broiling are popular ways to cook meats and fish, these methods can lead to the formation of toxic compounds that have been linked to serious diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. To avoid these harmful compounds, stick to healthier food prep methods, like baking, roasting, poaching, slow-cooking, and sous vide.
Sources: healthline.com & eatright.org