by Elena Sprick
March is National Nutrition Month and is a great time to make a new commitment to your health. While many people start off the New Year by setting health-related goals, about two months in is typically when people start backsliding on their newly-formed healthy habits. But eating well doesn't have to be difficult. Start by making small changes in your diet that will add up over time and can have a big impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Below we've shared some suggestions for healthier options to try that will increase your intake of vitamins and nutrients and help you avoid some common problem foods.
Sparkling water instead of soda
Most sodas, including diet sodas, are filled with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, which can wreak havoc on your health, not to mention your waistline. Instead, reach for club soda or unsweetened, flavored sparkling water. Some brands, such as LaCroix, offer flavored sparkling waters without any calories or sweeteners. Or try starting with a mineral water or club soda and adding some fresh lemon or lime, mint or basil, muddled fresh berries or even jalapeño slices for a little kick! The possibilities are endless and much better choice nutritionally than traditional soda.
Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes
Whether they're fried, baked, mashed, boiled or sautéed, Americans eat about 110 pounds of potatoes per person each year! White potatoes are high glycemic, which means that your body treats them like sugar through the digestion process. As an alternative, sweet potatoes don’t have the same sugar-like reaction in the body and are instead high in fiber, filled with good vitamins, and are packed with beneficial minerals. And best of all, any of the methods that you use to make potatoes can be used for sweet potatoes, making them a very easy option to substitute.
Mixed greens instead of iceberg lettuce
While iceberg lettuce has a nice crisp, crunch, it really doesn't have too much else. Iceberg is very high in water and low in vitamins and minerals, and when it’s frequently served with calorie-dense creamy dressing or covered in cheese, it makes consuming it kind of worthless. To opt for better nutrition in your salad, choose a spring mix, spinach, baby kale, or butter leaf lettuce. And for a better dressing option, try olive oil and vinegar or a light vinaigrette instead of Ranch or other creamy dressings.
Nuts or veggies instead of chips
While chips are an easy to go to snack or side for your sandwich, they are pretty much empty calories, nutritionally speaking. Try switching them out for some heart-healthy nuts to get your salty fix, or chop up some veggies to dip in your hummus or salsa. With either option you'll be getting healthful nutrients and reducing your intake of trans and saturated fats.
Whole grain instead of white bread / pasta
Similar to white potatoes, white bread is high glycemic and essentially has the same reaction as sugar in the body. Eating these common high glycemic foods regularly will spike your blood glucose level and can contribute to diabetes and weight gain. Choosing whole grain options for pasta and bread allow you to enjoy some of your favorite foods while getting more nutrients and reducing your intake of those hidden sugars. Tip: When looking for whole gain options, always look for the yellow whole grain symbol to be sure that what you’re eating truly is whole grain.
Elena Sprick is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Health Coach with experience in guiding people to choose healthy eating habits and make healthy lifestyle choices. Elena works on the Marketing team at HHS.