When you imagine a healthy diet… does it seem complicated? Too many bits and pieces to remember and plan for? And to be truly healthy you have to eat perfectly? If these thoughts cross your mind you can breathe a sigh of relief, because EVERY healthy bite counts!
Everyone seems to have a piece of health advice; friends, family, social media, and even the food package itself claims to have the answers. So who's right? Well probably all of them in someway or another. What is most confusing is that health messages seem to focus on one single aspect of nutrition, so… when lots of people provide only one piece of the puzzle it becomes difficult to identify which pieces go together and which are missing. Unfortunately, all this confusion makes it seem like we must first “own” all the pieces of the puzzle in order to get started. I am so happy to tell you that you can start any piece of a healthy diet ANYTIME. As best stated in an ancient Chinese proverb “the journey of 1000 miles, starts with one step.” Here are three examples of how EVERY healthy bite is worth it.
3 examples that prove EVERY healthy bite (or sip) counts!
Example #1 Drink water instead of soda Choosing water instead of soda (or any sugary drink) will benefit your body and mind. Here is how:
You will crave less sugar! If you crave sugar it's because you eat sugar… it's a vicious cycle! Concentrated sweets like soda cause your blood sugar to spike, your body then overreacts and your blood sugar drops. When your blood sugar drops you crave the sugar again. Drink less= Crave less
Better Brain! Many drink coke in the afternoon, looking for a caffeine and sugar boost. Although it may help for an hour or two, in the long-term research shows that drinking a lot of soda can have a negative effect on learning & memory. Researchers are not exactly sure how a diet high in sugar is affecting brain health, but its thought that when folks have a diet hight in sugar they make less of a brain chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), responsible for learning and memory.
Look Younger & Live Longer! A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who drank a lot of soda had shorter telomeres in immune cells, meaning their risk of dying sooner was higher. Telomeres protect DNA, so the shorter they get, the more a person ages and is at risk for disease.
Example #2 Eat Colorful Plants! Oh we are at it again! This may sound a bit familiar from the last two posts … “The color and beauty of food is directly related to the amount of nutrition it contains. Humans have evolved to identify nutrition and health with what we now call "Beauty" and all colorful foods have unique benefits; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, & white all have something special to offer”. Here are three examples of how just one serving can make a BIG difference:
Just 1 cup of spinach in your smoothie provides all of your Vitamin K and Vitamin A needs for the day! Both are essential nutrients, working hard to keep your blood healthy and skin (inside and out) vibrant.
Choosing 1 cup of red bell pepper, great to dip in hummus, will provide 157% of your daily vitamin C! Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that helps repair tissue throughout our body, especially important after exercise.
Top your salad with 1 cup of sweet potato, one of the richest sources of potassium, an electrolyte essential for strong muscle function, growth, & maintenance.
Example #3 Eat when you are hungry! Sometimes we let ourselves get super hungry, then when we have the chance we devour what ever is quick and easy. So… the plan is to plan ahead. A great option is to have washed ready to eat fruits and veggies at eye level in the fridge.
Friends and family of Silver State… Do what you can, as often as you can, and you will feel the benefit because EVERY healthy bite (or sip) counts!
Shavawn M. Forester PhD, RDN (aka The Nutrient Dense RDN)
Nutrition Instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno
Founder of Nutrition Answered, LLC & the Eat Well & WIN! Program for mom’s of growing athletes