In Chicago, we’ve been enjoying spring…even summer-like…weather throughout the month. And we’re not the only region breaking records! The warm temperatures, t-shirts and al fresco dining remind me that the real spring and summer are just around the corner. This is the time of year when it seems easier to make positive, healthy changes in our lives and in our diets, which is probably why it’s also National Nutrition Month. So here are some easy tips to live healthier…now and throughout the year!
1. Cut the fat.
On average, a serving of a fat contains around 100 calories, and these calories can really add up fast. Remember that even healthy fats have calories. Olive oil is very healthy…BUT, 1 tablespoon is 120 calories! Consider using a cooking spray to coat your pans so that you use less oil and to bake your food more often than frying it. Also try to use reduced fat cheese, sour cream and salad dressings.
2. Mix it up.
No one wants to be bored with what we eat. All recipes can be modified to be healthier. Draw on inspiration from favorite dishes when eating out, or even from recipes you see in magazines or on cooking shows. This will help to give you ideas so that you don’t get into a food rut.
3. Get moving.
So often, many of us make up excuses as to why we can’t exercise. The most common excuse is that we don’t have time. But there are always opportunities for more activity! Consider marching in place or walking around your home during commercial breaks when watching TV. Or you could even do some chair exercises or arm circles. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator, or park in the last spot of the parking lot to walk farther to your destination. If you take public transportation, consider getting off a stop or two before your normal stop so that you can walk more.
4. Quinoa, please!
If you have been trying to increase fiber in your diet but find that you are not a fan of other whole grains, give quinoa a try. Not only is it easy to cook, but it is a complete protein and is gluten free. Try substituting it for recipes that involve cous cous, rice or pasta. It can be found in most grocery stores.
5. Snack smart.
Snacking is not a bad thing! Snacking can be an opportunity to add more nutrition to our diet, as well as help prevent overeating at meal times. Choose snacks that are nutritionally dense and high in fiber. Examples include: veggies with hummus or a low fat dip, fruit, high-fiber granola bars, low-fat cheese, peanut butter on whole grain crackers or a handful of nuts. Beware of “boredom snacking,” as this can add too many calories to your diet.
6. Make fruit a regular part of your day.
Fruit is packed in nutrition and is high in fiber to help fill us up. Consider adding fruit to your oatmeal, salads or even substituting applesauce for oil when baking.