March, being National Nutrition Month, is the perfect time to assess your diet as part of your daily lifestyle. Ask yourself if you’re ready to make changes and willing to try new things. Having the right mindset is critical to successfully changing behaviors for your health.
Here are some questions to get you on track for improving your diet.
How many fruits and vegetables do I eat a day?
You should aim for 5-9 servings a day. Try filling half your plate with a good balance of fruits and vegetables, and include all colors of the rainbow: broccoli, red peppers, purple cabbage, oranges, yellow squash, blueberries, onions, and others to have a variety of colors and tastes. Avoid eating the same ones every day.
Be wary of fruit and vegetable juices, which are often high in calories and low in fiber. Pre-made smoothies are another so-called “healthy” food to avoid. They are typically made with canned fruits that have added sugars.
Do I eat enough protein every day?
The average adult should consume 46-56 grams of protein a day. Lean meats, poultry, and fish are rich sources of protein (roughly 7 grams of protein per ounce), as are eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. Protein is also found in dairy foods (milk, yogurt, and cheese), grains, and vegetables. Eating a variety of foods will provide adequate protein in your daily diet.
Do I include whole grains in my daily diet?
Whole grains have more nutrients and fiber than refined grains. Aim for three servings per day, which can include whole wheat/grain bread, brown rice, and whole grain cereals, like oatmeal. Cereals and snack crackers that state “Made with whole grain” may contain minimal amounts. Instead, check the ingredient list—the first flour listed should be whole grain or whole wheat flour, not bleached or unbleached wheat flour.
How often do I eat?
Experts suggest eating every 4-5 hours during the day. This helps maintain blood sugar and energy, and prevents cravings and overeating. Eating often means eating smaller “mini-meals” throughout the day or including snacks between meals to keep the cravings away.
Where do I eat most of my meals?
Eating at desks, in cars, or in front of a screen leads to distracted eating. Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to mindfully eat your meals instead of multitasking through them. Being a mindful eater can help you reduce your calorie intake and lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.
Whole foods should always be your first choice when making selections for a healthier diet. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. For individual nutrition counseling, find a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area by checking the Academy’s website. Their website also includes helpful articles, recipes, videos, and educational resources on healthy eating.