Friday, March 07, 2014

7 on the 7th: nutrition edition

Happy Friday everyone! This month is especially filled with happiness as many of our family members were born in March. Also, I think it is a given that we are all anticipating SPRING! Winter, you have been beautiful, eventful, and cold. Now bring on the fresh flowers, the farmer's markets, and the pretty pastels! March is especially dear to me because it is National Nutrition Month! For this installation of 7 on the 7th I'm sharing my favorite nutrition tips!

1. Eat real food
If the ingredient list is a mile long and full of things you can't pronounce or identify, it shouldn't go in your body. Stock your kitchen with fresh ingredients that allow you to create tasty, nutritious meals without any concern of what additives, chemicals, and preservatives are in them. Most healthy foods are found around the perimeter of the grocery store rather than in the aisles where the processed, shelf stable products are kept. Consider starting your own garden this year so you can enjoy fresh produce just steps from your kitchen! Also, support local farmers and vendors by shopping at co-ops or farmer's markets! 

2. Eat colorfully
Who doesn't love a beautiful, colorful plate? Aside from the aesthetic appeal, colorful plates are packed with vitamins and minerals. Think about your plate as you make menu choices. Which sounds better? Baked chicken breast(white), baked potatoes(brown/white), and summer squash(yellow) OR chicken fajitas with red, yellow, and green bell peppers and black beans. Aside from the fact that I could eat Mexican food daily, I would always prefer to eat a plate full of colorful food than a monochromatic one. 

3. Eat mindfully
When you eat, enjoy it. Savor the moment, the fellowship, the flavors. Think about what you are eating and how it plays a vital role in your health. Try to avoid having to rush through your meal. Pay attention to when you are hungry and when you are full. Consider portion sizes. Rather than feeling the need to "clean your plate," opt to save some for a later meal. When we mindlessly eat, we miss out on the experience of our meals and often overeat. 

4. Eat with a plan
Last year I began planning our meals for a week at a time. It is one of my favorite parts of the week! I grab my cookbooks, my grocery list, a cute notepad, and login to Pinterest for inspiration. I aim to try new recipes at least once a week. I also attempt to alternate cuisines throughout the week. For example, one night we may have Mexican, another night Italian, and another Asian, etc. In addition to flavors, I think about the colors and ingredients. We vary between fish, beef, poultry, and pork as our protein sources. I also try to switch up our vegetable choices each night. When you take the time to plan your meals, you benefit from variety and organization. It also helps you stick to a budget! 

5. Eat without guilt
One phrase that makes me cringe a bit is hearing someone say they are having a "cheat" meal. When is cheating ever a good thing?! Take ownership of your choices. Know the difference between an unhealthy habit and an occasional celebration. Enjoy a "treat" instead of a "cheat." Choose to indulge in a special meal/treat/drink every now and then. Have boundaries in place to avoid over indulgence. I love desserts but I don't keep many sugary sweets in our home because I know these are things we do not need every day. When we partake of treats, we enjoy them without guilt!

6. Eat to live
Make lifelong, healthy choices. What we eat directly impacts our health and our lives. One of my favorite quotes is by Virginia Woolf: One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. How true! If we over or under eat, our bodies cannot function as they should. Food is our fuel. Fad diets, quick-fix plans, products, and pills are not the way to achieve health and wellness. Eating real, whole foods promotes better nutrition and a better life! While we should enjoy treats, also realize that excessive consumption of sugar (or anything in extreme quantities) is not healthy at all. We must be honest with ourselves and make choices that will support lifelong health. Are you addicted to sugar? Do you eat too many portions? Is your relationship with food unhealthy? Take a moment to consider your food choices and areas you where you may struggle. Few people enjoy change, but it is essential for growth. Make eating real food your lifestyle, not just a phase. 

7. Psalm 34:8
"Taste and see that the Lord is good; how happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!"
The physical aspect of nutrition is vital; however, the spiritual aspect is infinitely more important. We must partake of scripture, our Daily Bread. Jesus is the Living Water. Christians are to be the Salt of the Earth. Devour His Word. See that He is so good. How happy, satisfied, and truly nourished, you will be when you do. 

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