by Gwenda Hill, Open Arms Nutrition Specialist
Every March, we take time to return to the basics of healthy eating in celebration of National Nutrition Month®.
We encourage people to focus on the best foods – whole grains, lean meats, low-fat milk, fruits, and vegetables. All of these foods provide us with the nutrients that we need to nourish our mind, body, and soul.
But a smart diet is not the only important ingredient for nourishment. This week, I propose a recipe for a healthy lifestyle, made up of several key ingredients:
1. Eat a balanced diet
Choose “nutrient-dense” foods most of the time. These are the foods that pack the most nutritional punch per bite, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Reserve the sweet treats for special occasions, like birthdays and other important celebrations. Remember that no one eats perfectly all the time, but the more often you do, the more it will benefit your health.
2. Get moving
There’s no denying that physical activity is good for your body. We know that people who exercise regularly are more likely to be at a healthy weight and lower their risk for various diseases. But did you know that walking in nature can improve your mood and mental well-being, while significantly lowering stress and depression? Bundle up and take a long walk in the fresh air to put a positive spin on life!
3. Find peace
Research supports the benefits of meditation. It helps to lower blood pressure and anxiety, and boost the immune system and energy level. Regular practice will provide the most benefit, and it only takes a few minutes a day.
4. Get adequate, quality sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recently updated their recommendations, which reinforce the need for 7–9 hours of sleep each night. A regular lack of sleep puts you at a higher risk for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. To help you fall asleep, eliminate distractions in your bedroom by keeping your smart phone away from your nightstand and turning off the TV.
5. Get involved
Find a way to help others in your community. Volunteering your time, knowledge, and skills is an excellent way to get involved. And what better place to volunteer than at Open Arms?
Happy National Nutrition Month®! This month focus on enjoying healthy foods and adding in nourishing behaviors as a way to “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.”