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What’s on Your Plate? Tips to boost your nutrition

March is the harbinger of spring and with it, the start of daylight saving time – an extra hour for healthy activities from taking in the great outdoors to growing a garden. It’s also National Nutrition Month, a time to focus on making informed food choices and developing sound eating habits.

With lifestyle-related diseases like obesity and diabetes on the rise, the importance of proper nutrition cannot be overstated.

Adopting healthier eating habits doesn’t require a complete overhaul overnight. Instead, by embracing gradual yet sustainable changes, you can pave the way for long-term well-being. Here are a few practical tips to start your journey toward better nutrition:

Eat more locally grown foods

Seasonal fruits and vegetables that are grown nearby and picked at their ripest taste great and have more nutrition than food eaten out of season. Spring is a great time at farmers markets. Bell peppers, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes and of course, strawberries. Great choices await you at the Boca Grande Farmers Market at Wheeler Road on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through the end of March.

Incorporate other whole foods into your diet

Unprocessed foods such as whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats are nutrient-dense and provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Shop the perimeter of the grocery store

Fresh foods are generally kept in the outside aisles of grocery stores. The inner aisles are stocked full of processed foods full of excess sugar, salt and refined carbohydrates, which can increase your risk of obesity, fatty liver disease and heart disease. Select natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup and choose whole-grain alternatives over refined grains. Use a grocery list and be sure to do your shopping on a full stomach to staunch impulse purchases.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated

Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that among U.S. adults, plain water intake is significantly lower in older adults. But for everyone, the standard advice is to drink half of your body weight in ounces per day, and possibly more if you are physically active or exercising or working outdoors – especially during hot summer months. Also, consider having a glass of water before reaching for a snack or before your meal to help curb your appetite. 

Think before you eat

A good habit is to plan out your meals in advance, taking time to incorporate healthy foods into the menu. Stock your kitchen with nutritious options to ensure healthy foods are readily available. And try to eat with intention, slow down and take time to savor what you are eating.

By incorporating these simple tips into your routine, you are on your way to healthy eating. Small changes can lead to significant results when it comes to nutrition.

If you want or need to get really serious about your diet or you have specific health concerns, ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian or nutritionist who can provide personalized nutrition information to meet your health goals.

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