Thursday, March 1, 2012

Get your plate in shape!! It's National Nutrition Month!

Most people don't realize that health is 80% diet and only 20% exercise. Don't get me wrong, exercise is incredibly vital to overall health but, what you eat actually plays the biggest role. Last month was National Heart month and no doubt you learned how 1 in 3 women die of heart related issues. Making sure you know your numbers (i.e. your waist circumference, cholesterol, weight, blood pressure, etc.) is important. The next step is getting in shape and instead of starting with your body though, start with your plate!

 Start by cleaning out your fridge. Phase out any unhealthy foods such as sugary drinks, fatty meats and whole milk products. Other sugars to be aware of besides refined sugar is corn syrup (don't believe the commercials) and artificial sugars. High fructose corn syrup reprograms the brain to crave foods saturated with sugar, fat and salt. Artificial sugar can do something similar. It actually tricks your body into to thinking it is real sugar and that causes the brain to reprogram as it would with real sugar. If you have to have something sweet try Stevia. Stevia is a natural sweeten that has NO calories!! Its just as sweet as sugar if not more but it doesn't have the same effects as refined or artificial sugars. After your fridge and pantry are clear, avoid buying anymore "convenient" items that are prepackaged. Prepackaged typically means it has sugar and fats and chemical preservatives that you shouldn't put in your body.

Next, stock your fridge with foods that support and promote good health such as colorful fruits and vegetables, reduced fat dairy products, frozen veggies, fish, and whole wheat, corn or brown rice tortillas. Many frozen veggies can be cooked inside the bag. Just place them in the microwave and heat them up for a great side with your fish. Living in Alaska has its benefits with seafood. I don't know anyone who doesn't have some fish in their freezer. The salmon can be plucked out of the water during the summer (OK, you can't just pick them up you do have to hook them) but if you are not in an area that has access to abundance of fish, Sam's and Costco typically have large bags of frozen fish for a good price. Also, try using oils to cook with instead of butter. Canola, Olive and coconut oil are healthier fats that are processed better by our bodies. 

Finally, be sure to plan ahead. Before bed at night, I take the time to do a little quick meal prepping. I make sure to have some snacks ready for those times when I'm hungry and want something right away. This will help you resist the temptation to grab something prepackaged, quick and ultimately, unhealthy. 
For more information on healthy eating check out - a website provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formally the American Dietetic Association). For some great recipes check out the Heart Healthy Recipe Guide.

Just keep in mind that change takes time. Don't feel like you have to make sweeping changes immediately. That will only stress you out and set you up for frustration and failure. Start slow and build up to it and know that you will make mistakes have weak moments. Just don't beat yourself up over it. Have fun with your foods and enjoy exploring new recipes and flavors!

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