March is National Nutrition Month®* and there’s no better time to focus on the benefits of healthy eating and maintaining a healthy diet. If you already eat a diet of nutritious foods, great! If not, make a commitment to yourself and your health to start now, or share these tips with employees and community members. Remember that developing healthy habits often requires changing your mindset, but the payoff can be life-changing. Eating healthy, nutritious foods can make a difference in your life in many ways.
1. Managing Your Weight
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is essential for healthy eating habits, maintaining a healthy weight, or losing extra pounds. All are packed with fiber, which helps you stay full longer and makes you less likely to reach for snacks or eat large portions. Plus, most fruits, veggies, and whole grains are not high in fat, calories, or added sugars—nutrients that are linked to weight gain. Add lean proteins and small portions of low-fat or nonfat dairy for a well-balanced diet, and limit your intake of processed foods and sweets to keep weight under control. Be sure to balance your calorie intake with calories burned through exercise. Learn more about eating healthy at www.choosemyplate.gov
2. Preventing and Controlling Diseases
Many diseases (heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) can be controlled or prevented through proper nutrition. For instance, limiting sodium (salt) in your diet can keep high blood pressure at bay. Or, if you’ve already been diagnosed with elevated or high blood pressure, being careful about your salt intake can prevent the condition from getting worse or even reverse some symptoms. Additionally, many health issues, such as diabetes and certain types of cancer, are linked to being overweight or obese, conditions that can be curbed by healthy eating.
3, Rising Energy and Productivity
Fueling your body with the right foods gives it the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed to stay energized throughout the day. Foods high in fats and added sugars can give you a quick boost of energy, but it’s short-lived. Carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, and veggies digest slowly and keep blood sugar and energy levels steady. Lean proteins, such as beans and nuts, also provide a sustained energy boost. The more energy you have throughout the day, the better able you’ll be to accomplish tasks and handle responsibilities.
4. Improving Mental Health
Eating well isn’t just good for your physical health – it can improve your mental fitness as well. Some studies show the link between a lower incidence of depression and certain diets high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins rather than diets heavy in refined grains and added sugars. It makes sense. Since food is the fuel that helps your body and mind perform, healthier foods can improve the function of your overall health. Plus, practicing good nutrition and healthy eating will keep you feeling better physically, which is sure to improve how you feel mentally. When your body feels better, you’ll feel better as a whole!
5. Increasing Longevity
Eating nutritious foods can help you live a longer, healthier life. Research has shown that people in certain areas of the world live longer in part because of a diet that places emphasis on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins (seafood, nuts, soy, etc.). It shouldn’t be surprising that eating healthfully, with all of its benefits, would lead to greater longevity!
*National Nutrition Month® is a registered trademark of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.