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March is National Nutrition Month®.

National Nutrition Month® is a great time to start working on healthy eating habits, especially if your New Year’s resolutions are a distance memory.  Many people associate healthy eating with restrictive diets, complicated plans or time-consuming meal prep routines.  If that’s you, there’s good news! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be that complicated! Healthy eating starts with making small goals that pay off in the long run.  In honor of National Nutrition Month® here are 5 ways to  eat healthy without dieting.

Drink more water

Making wise choices when it comes to beverages can have a big impact on your diet quality.  Beverages keep us hydrated, but they can also contribute a large part of our daily caloric intake.  Because most caloric beverages contain little to no nutritional value except for sugar or “empty calories,” water is the smartest choice. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least 8 cups or 64 oz a day. However, fluids needs depend on age, activity, body size and other factors. Keep a refillable water bottle by your side to help remind you to drink throughout the day.

Eat Breakfast

Do you get ravenously hungry or “hangry” by lunchtime? Do you fall for the pastries in the office every time? You probably need to start eating breakfast! Eating breakfast fuels your day, and can help you get a head start on daily fiber, calcium and protein goals. Try eggs, almond butter or avocado on whole grain toast, oatmeal with nuts and milk, or Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and muesli for balance meals. If you don’t have time to eat a meal, try mixing a green smoothie up and drink it on the road.

Pack a Lunch

Eating out for lunch can take a toll on your wallet and your waistline. According to some estimates, the average American spends nearly $1000 a year on eating out for lunch! Plus, the average fast food lunch contains about 800-1000 calories.  That’s more than half the calories most of us need in a day.  A great way to eat healthy without dieting is to start packing your own lunch. Pack lunch the night before to save time before work. Try a sandwich on whole wheat bread, or a salad with chicken, tuna or hard boiled eggs. Don’t forget leftovers make great lunches too!  If you need more inspiration, check out these healthy lunch ideas.

Snack on Fruits and Veggies

The Dietary Guidelines recommend at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day for most Americans. That’s about 1.5- 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables a day.  According to the CDC only 1 in 10 Americans are eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.  Snacking on fruits and veggies can help you meet the recommended intake. Fruits and vegetables are also low in calories, and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals so they make the perfect snack!  Try raw peppers, cucumbers or carrots with hummus or light ranch.  Pack clementines, apples, pears or bananas and pair with a cheese stick, nuts or peanut butter for a portable and filling snack.

Flavor Your Food With Herbs and Spices

Using spices can add flavor to your meals without extra calories.  Plus, some spices, such as garlic, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon may have anti-inflammatory effects. Try lemon pepper on fish or rosemary on your potatoes.  Brighten up your plate with this turmeric rice and add cinnamon to oatmeal, yogurt or coffee. Instead of gingerale, try homemade ginger tea made from grated ginger root for an upset stomach. If you enjoy fresh herbs, add fresh basil or parsley to soups, salads and pasta dishes.

Cook More Meals At Home

Most of our excess dietary fat, sugar and sodium comes from processed foods and restaurant meals.  Cut down on all three of those nutrients and save money by cooking more of your own meals at home. All it takes is a little planning, a grocery list and setting aside some time to cook.  If it’s too hard to find time to cook during the week, try meal prepping on weekends or use a crockpot for easy week day dinners. This year, for National Nutrition Month® why not celebrate by cooking at least one more meal per week at home? 

Want more comprehensive advice on how to eat healthy without dieting? Schedule an appointment with our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Joanna Eaton, by calling 301-288-1319. Now accepting most health insurances and offering telehealth visits!