This year the theme for National Nutrition Month is "Get Your Plate in Shape". This is a chance to start 2012 out with a new attitude about what we eat and how we eat. Below I will give some examples of what I think "Get Your Plate in Shape" means to me and my family. It's not as hard to do as you might think, and if you have been following along with Healthy Living Natural Beauty's 30 Day Challenges, you may already have some of these steps incorporated into your meals.
First, I feel it's very important to try and get as many fruits and vegetables as possible into our diets on a daily basis. It's also important to try and get as much variety in our fruit and vegetable selections. Green smoothies (like the ones I've been logging in HLNB 30 Day Challenges) are a great way to do this. I make them with dark, leafy green vegetables, apples, bananas, carrots or any variety of fruits and vegetables. Also, selecting 100% fruit juices to drink instead of sugary drinks is another great way to help get more nutrients into our daily diet.
Second, another item I add more of in our daily diet is whole grains. I try to select whole grain breads, pastas, cereals and brown rice as alternative choices to help increase the whole grain intake. Whole grains are also found in other foods and I try to watch for them by checking the ingredients lists. For instance, snacks like Triscuits, and Ritz crackers have alternative choices that contain whole grains. I just have to look for them when shopping as opposed to buying snacks with no whole grain content.
Third, I have switched our family over to Soy Milks, Almond Milks and Coconut milks. They contain more calcium than regular milk does and they taste great. Some have less calories than regular milk and the ones that don't are also offered in low calorie versions. I use them not only to drink in glasses, but they can be used in recipes that need milk, and I use them in cereals, oatmeal or even to make as chocolate milk drinks.
Next, I try to vary our protein sources. We eat seafood, chicken, buffalo meat and a small amount of beef. But I also look for other foods that contain protein such as beans, nuts and eggs. We also drink some protein drinks called Mix1 drinks that are not only good in protein but many other great nutrients as well. I've also seen some vegetarian "bacon" that has no meat but does contain protein. It tastes just like real meat bacon strips but is so much healthier and tastes great with eggs in the morning.
Then, I have tried to reduce the amount of salt and sugar in our foods. I buy foods like soup, tomato sauces and canned corn with "no sodium" labels. And I also choose to use honey or agave nectar in place of sugar in some recipes or in teas. Also, I watch for the amount of sugar in snacks I purchase. We will have some sugary snacks once in awhile, but we try to limit them. I have learned how to make some good tasting healthy foods that many times fill our "sweet tooth" needs without having to get a sugary snack.
Next, I try to watch the portions we eat. If we do happen to eat out, we try to share a meal as many of the plates that are served in restaurants are very large. If we don't share a plate, then we will make sure we take about half the plate home with us. At home, I also make sure we are not over eating and save any extra servings for left overs the next day. When we eat, we try not to eat until we feel stuffed. We try to eat only until we feel fulfilled.
Lastly, I have been trying to make sure we are moving every day. Even if we walk at a mall or grocery store or park further away from a door, we try to keep moving. When possible, I try to incorporate other exercises into my day. I've documented this during HLNB 30 Day Challenges. I have found that instead of sitting on a couch or bed to watch TV, I try to do some exercises or my stationary bike. When I first started my stationary bike, 10 minutes felt like a long time and I would get tired. But now as you've seen in my exercise log, I've even reached over 1 hour at a time on the bike. I couldn't have imagined that when I started out at 10 minutes. So keep in mind no matter when you start being active, once you do, it will become easier and it will become a daily part of your healthy life.
To read more about National Nutrition Month 2012 check out their site at eatright.org. There are some good tips, and so much good information to read about. Plus they will have some fun activities you can participate in like a weekly giveaway of prizes. You can read more about it at the National Nutrition Month Blog. Hope you will enjoy National Nutrition Month this year and "Get Your Plate in Shape"!