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March is National Nutrition Month, a yearly campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. What a great opportunity to make better food choices and to develop healthy eating habits. The theme this year is Personalize Your Plate.
The month presents an excellent opportunity as well to me as a health blogger. Because I post in Journey once a week, the month long event breaks down naturally into four connected posts.
This week I lead off with Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods. I provide a sampling of the best, most nutritious foods to add to your shopping list.
The rest of the month looks like this:
- week two – shopping tips for highly nutritious foods. I’ll show you my shopping list and where I shop and the actual cost of the nutritious food I’m purchasing
- week three – meal planning and food prep. During this week you get a peek at the meals I create with the foods I purchased the week before
- week four – the transformative power of food and nutrition. Tips for creating and continuing a healthy lifestyle get featured this week.
Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods
This week’s goal focuses on encouraging better food choices. The typical American diet includes high levels of sugar, fats, meats, eggs, cheese and processed foods. Additionally, we often sacrifice nutrition for convenience by stopping for fast food on the way home after a busy day.
And yet, nutrition is extremely important. What we put into our bodies, fuels our bodies. Highly nutritious foods helps the body and all its systems function better and maintain health. Poor quality foods contribute to the breaking down of the body and its systems, creating diseases and disorders.
We’d never put poor quality gasoline into our vehicles and expect them to operate well. And yet daily we consume low quality foods without a thought for how our bodies are affected by our choices.
I divided nutritious foods into categories. And, I am plant based. In good conscious I can’t recommend animal products. If you don’t feel ready to eliminate meat from your diet, include chicken or wild caught salmon in several meals during the week. I highly encourage you to go meatless as often as possible. Eggs feed viruses while dairy products create inflammation in the body and increase mucous production.
A diet rich in vegetables lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes, prevents some types of cancer, eases digestive problems and improves eye health. Vegetables provide fiber, valuable vitamins and minerals, colors, textures and flavors. They are low in calories, sodium and cholesterol. Their antioxidants combat inflammation and diseases.
Choose from the following vegetables:
- dark, leafy greens such as spinach and kale
- potatoes and sweet potatoes
- cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage
- onions and garlic
- peppers – green, red, yellow and orange
In recent years, people feared eating much fruit, due to the misconception that the sugar in fruit is the same as refined sugar. It’s not. The natural fructose and glucose found in fruit are different from refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
Fruit digests quickly. And like veggies, fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants and flavonoids. A diet high in fruit reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, inflammation and diabetes. Fruit fights disease. They make great snacks instead of cookies, chips or fast food.
Choose from the following fruits:
- berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and blackberries
- lemons and limes
- oranges and tangerines
Legumes of all kinds provide necessary fiber, protein, B vitamins, folate, calcium and zinc. They are low fat. Beans are similar to meat, nutrition wise, without the saturated fats.
Legumes reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. They also help lower blood pressure and triglycerides.
Choose from the following legumes:
- chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans
- kidney beans
- black beans
- pinto beans
- navy beans
- black eyed peas
- purple hull beans
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide fiber, vitamins, protein, healthy fats including omega-3s, iron, zinc and niacin.
These small powerhouses are rich in antioxidants that prevent cell damage and reduce the risks for inflammation and disease. They help lower cholesterol and triglycerides and blood sugar levels.
Choose from these nuts and seeds:
- pumpkins seeds
- chia seeds
Grains are a bit trickier. Some people, like me, don’t tolerate wheat and other grains containing gluten. Include wheat, cautiously, if you don’t show symptoms of gluten intolerance.
Healthy grains provide important nutrients, fiber and B vitamins. They improve heart health, lower the risk of strokes, support healthy digestion, help maintain weight and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Pastas made from brown rice are a healthy alternative to wheat pastas.
Choose from the following grains:
- brown rice
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices provide valuable nutrients, antioxidants and health benefits. Use aromatic herbs and spices for cooking. The rest make excellent health boosting teas. Herbs and spices lower the risk for heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. They contain anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.
Choose from the following herbs and spices:
- aromatic herbs including thyme, rosemary, basil, bay leaf, sage and oregano
- cat’s claw
- nettle leaf
- lemon balm
- rose hips
Create Your Shopping List
As you plan meals for next week, choose from the list of highly nutritious foods and include as many as possible. Concentrate on veggies and fruits first and then add in legumes, grains, herbs, nuts and seeds.
As I plan my meals for next week, I am doing the same, incorporating as many of the listed foods as possible.
Watch for next week’s post of the shopping trip to see which foods I purchase for the meals for week three.
Let’s eat healthier, together!
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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.