The National Nutrition Month theme for this year is Eat Right, Bite by Bite, which reminds us that every bit of nutrition helps! When it comes to eating right, making small changes towards a healthy lifestyle, adds up to achieving your long-term goals and developing lifelong habits.
Changing your habits for better health is a process that includes many steps. Improving your eating habits requires you to:
- Reflect on your eating habits. Identify a few eating habits you would like to improve, as well as recognizing your current successes. Doing so can help you feel more encouraged to make more healthful changes.
- Replace your unhealthy eating habits with new healthful ones! Don’t forget to track your progress to help you stay focused and find areas you can improve, however small they may be.
- Reinforce your new habits and allow for setbacks. It takes time for habits to develop, so don’t be discouraged! After maintaining your healthy habits for awhile, celebrate with healthy rewards such as giving yourself a relaxing day off or treating yourself to a your favorite, nutritious snack to stay motivated.
Here are some examples of simple steps you can take to develop healthful eating habits, not only during National Nutrition Month, but during every month as well:
- Stock your fridge with more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. Instead of restricting yourself and taking away unhealthy snacks, focus on adding nourishing foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to your diet. When you think of certain foods as “off-limits,” you tend to crave those foods more. As you reduce your intake of unhealthy foods, you may find yourself thinking of these foods as more of special indulgences and sometimes foods.
- Try to eat meals as a family at the dining table. Start small by increasing the number of family meals by one extra meal a week whether it’s dinner, lunch, weekend brunch, or after school snack. Family meals provide a time to strengthen family ties and build better relationships. This will help you focus on eating meals at a regular scheduled time and ensure healthy eating is a positive and pleasurable experience.
- Rethink your drink! Sugar-sweetened beverages are a major source of added sugars to our diet. When thinking about all the beverages you drink in a day, you may be consuming extra calories from sodas, sweetened smoothies, juices, sweetened teas, and energy drinks. Replacing just one sugary beverage a day with water can make a significant impact towards improving your healthy eating habits!
- Prepare more homemade meals when possible. If you consistently dine out during the week, consider choosing a day to cook a meal at home to help you take charge of what you’re eating and monitor exactly what goes in your food. Check out the CNS blog for more tips on making quick, family meals.
Don’t forget to share how you and your family are promoting healthy living by using the #NationalNutritionMonth when posting on social media! Check out the Eat Right website for National Nutrition Month resources and materials.