March means that it’s National Nutrition Month, and to get in the spirit of healthy living, UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine has put together some tips on how to get the most out of your diet.
For the next month, our focus is on meal planning, food preparation and how to maximize your energy and feel your best by balancing your diet with a variety of delicious, nutrient-dense options with the help of a registered dietitian. The best part – none of it will completely change your routine or cut out the things you already love, but can help you live a healthier life.
Cook & Prep – Get those Green Veggies In
It can sometimes be a struggle to get as many green vegetables into our diets as we’d like to. However, a lot of green veggies – with the proper seasoning and preparation – can really help elevate some of the sides you already love.
Looking to enjoy a creamy mac and cheese on the side with your chicken tonight? Try wilting in fresh spinach or adding some steamed broccoli to the mix. Not only will the veggies add a fresh reprieve from the richness of the cheese, but your body will also very much appreciate the influx of potassium, iron, calcium, folic acid and vitamins A, B, C and K they provide. Simply adding one ingredient to the prep of your favorites is one of the best ways to subtly incorporate some greens into your diet. And who knows – you may end up liking the spinoff as much (or more) than the original.
Meal Planning – Go Meatless Once a Week
Plant-based foods might be a trendy topic right now, but it would be a mistake to overlook the potential benefits that small-scale shifts to include more meatless meals could make on your health, primarily your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a lipid that – unlike fat – cannot be burned off for energy. Regular intake of foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fattier cuts of meat, eggs and full-fat dairy, have been linked to higher cholesterol.
According to the CDC, over 102 million Americans ages 20 years or older live with high cholesterol, with more than 35 million of them at levels that put them at increased risk of heart disease. We get that trying to think of on-the-spot meatless alternatives may be a bit of a daunting task, so beginning to plan out your meals a few days or a week in advance can really help you stay on budget and take small steps towards health. Planning your meals out and swapping just one meal per week with a meatless alternative is an easy way to help lower your cholesterol with relatively little effort. You might even discover new foods to love along the way.
Vary Your Diet – Eat More Fish & Snack Smarter
The scientifically established links between the consumption of animal products like red meat and high cholesterol and heart disease make it advisable to occasionally diversify your choice of mealtime protein. While seafood does still contain some cholesterol, many types of fish and crustaceans contain a range of beneficial nutrients like iron, zinc and magnesium and are very high in healthy omega-3 fats, as well. With all these benefits and its status as a good alternative protein, the American Heart Association suggests eating fish twice a week as part of a healthy diet.
In addition, for people trying to maintain a healthy diet, mealtime often isn’t their main foe – instead, it comes in the form of snacking. It’s tough to think of your midday snack as the fuel you need to keep your mind and body running until dinnertime, but that’s exactly what it is. Unfortunately, the majority of quick, on-the-go snacking options consist of processed sugars and empty calories – but that doesn’t have to be the case.
One way to make better snack choices is to keep a bowl of fresh, whole fruit out in a common area of your home. The easy access and availability alone will start to help point you toward apples and oranges and away from the cheese puffs and fun-sized candy bars that are normally more convenient. Another way to snack smarter is to skip the chips and opt for vegetables instead. Dipped in your favorite low-fat dressing, crisp, raw veggies will give you the fuel you need with the same crunch you love. Making these small changes as little as twice or three times a week can help you maximize your daily energy and feel all-around better. It also makes it easier to incorporate a varied mix of healthy fruits and veggies into your weekly diet.
Nutrition that Fits Your Lifestyle – Meet with a Registered Dietitian
While losing a little weight now that the winter months are on their way out might be your immediate goal, there are a lot of good reasons to speak to a registered dietitian about your dietary habits.
RDs can give insightful advice about meal planning and recipe ideas for people who live a fast-paced lifestyle, as a balanced diet can be difficult to work into a hectic schedule. People with ongoing conditions like diabetes, heart disease or hypertension could also find consulting with an RD to be very helpful in providing dietary guidelines to sustain the nutritional balances they need to maintain a high quality of life. Whatever nutritional needs you and your family may have, meeting with a registered dietitian can provide a wealth of insights and resources to help you get the most out of your food in ways that work with your lifestyle.
Come See Us Today
Everybody is different, and that means that everyone’s nutritional needs are unique, as well. At UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, our registered dietician, Natalie Robertello, is an expert in assessing individual dietary needs and will work one-on-one with you to create a plan that fits into your life.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us today at 716.204.3200.