Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? This makes it a great time to start focusing on healthier food options, better stress management and self-care, and more frequent (or appropriate) exercise! Because as we holistic nutrition consultants tell you, healthy isn’t just about what you eat! It’s about choosing the right foods and eating intuitively; it’s about moving daily to get that body fluid; and it’s about managing any mental or emotional health complaints you may have.
So, in honor National Nutrition Month, I thought I would give you a few tips to get things rolling!
Are you ready? Great!
Let me be perfectly honest with you. It’s tough for me to take a step back from the details of holistic health and provide you with more generalized nutrition and health tips. It’s my job, after all, to dig into your health symptoms and try to help you eat according to your health goals and issues.
But, just like you, I had to start somewhere, so I’m going to give you some super helpful advice on how to get started with healthy eating OR just to get back on track if you’ve fallen off the wagon.
Baby Steps Lead to Huge Positive Outcomes
If you’re like me, throwing a 7-day meal plan and telling you to go out, shop, cook and follow it exactly is totally going to overwhelm you. Right?
Well, don’t worry, that’s not typically how I roll (but if you like this approach, I am more than happy to accommodate you).
Baby steps towards better health choices seem to work well for most people. It seems like, if you can pick up 1-2 new habits every 2-3 weeks, you’re more likely to stick with them long-term.
That being said, this National Nutrition Month, see if you can choose a few of my best ‘baby steps’ tips from below and start adding them into your life.
- Eat 2 cups of raw veggies every day
- Swap a high-carb and/or high-sugar breakfast food for a handful of nuts or 1-2 eggs
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flaxseed onto one meal each day
- Drink 2 more glasses of water than you normally do
- Sit down to eat
- Chew each bite of food for 20-40 bites (protein will take longer)
- Eat while totally focused on your food (no distractions!)
- Drink the juice from half a fresh lemon in a glass of water every morning
- Take a probiotic supplement
- Add 1 protein shake with berries to your day
- Swap 2 portions of dairy for non-dairy alternatives each day
- Drink ½ cup of kombucha every day
- Spend 10 minutes every night stretching or doing yoga poses
- Write down all that’s bothering you at the end of every day
- Do 20 body weight squats before bed
- Add 10 minutes of resistance training to the end of 1 workout each week
- Switch to dark chocolate from regular milk chocolate (70% cacao or higher)
Ramp Things Up A Notch
If you’re already very good at eating healthy, you’re probably ready to start swapping out some so-called ‘healthy’ foods for better ones.
When you’re ready, start by ditching dairy. And I mean all dairy, yogurt included! Dairy is very pro-inflammatory and is linked to so many health concerns. I can’t guarantee you anything but I do bet that if you ditch dairy for an entire month, you will just feel and look so much better.
Curious? Give it a shot and see what happens! You’ll get enough calcium from nuts and seeds, broccoli and other leafy greens.
A National Nutrition Month Diet
When it comes to healthy eating and food-related lifestyle changes, I truly do hate to use the word ‘diet’. The word ‘diet’ equates to ‘short-term’. How many times have you gone on a ‘diet’ only to go off that ‘diet’ and not really been happy with the results?
Yah, that’s why I don’t like to use that word.
So, for National Nutrition Month, I am challenging you to make a lifestyle change with respect to food!
If you’re not sure where to start, check out this FREE 7-Day Meal Plan!
But, if you’re just looking for a few tips to get started, let me introduce to you the one, the only, the best ‘diet’ around (in my opinion)…the Mediterranean Diet. (Yes, it has the word ‘diet’ in it but it’s really a lifestyle.)
Mediterranean Diet 101
With respect to ‘diets’, the Mediterranean Diet has been around the longest, with the most studies conducted against it. This longevity really does speak wonders about how great it is.
People who live around the Mediterranean Sea have some of the lowest incidents of major health disorders or diseases. Scientists noticed this trend and started to look at what was going on over there. Turns out, their diet plays a massive role in their health (as it should, no surprises there; food is awesome).
Here are just a few of the impressive health stats associated with eating a Mediterranean Diet:
- Fewer overweight and obese people
- Way better blood sugar stability and less Type II diabetes
- Much lower risk of heart disease and stroke
- Fewer incidents of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
- Less cancer
- Less premature death
That sounds pretty awesome, hey? Like, some of the worst health issues plaguing North Americans are drastically reduced in that part of the world!
Sustainable Diets are the KEY to Lifelong Health
One of my professional goals is to provide my clients with personalized nutrition that can be followed for life. I’m not going to put you on a strict diet that falls way outside your comfort zone. However, I may gently nudge you towards eating foods you previously thought were ‘bad’. Because I know they’re so good for you, that’s why!
The key to sustainable diets is to give you a high-level goal when it comes to food. You won’t be told to count calories, or eat at specific times of day, or only 3 times a day. No, you need a diet that you can easily translate from home, work, travel and the unexpected. Right? Food shouldn’t rule your life.
The Mediterranean Diet is clearly very, very sustainable. The Italians, Greeks, Spaniards and other nationalities have been eating this way for centuries! That should really tell you something!
What’s the Mediterranean Diet All About
In a nutshell, without giving you portion sizes or cooking instructions, here is what you need to eat:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Raw nuts and seeds (i.e. not salted or sugared or otherwise altered)
- Legumes (peas, beans, lentils, etc.)
- Whole grains
- Fish and other seafood
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh and dried herbs and spices
- Minimal animal protein
That’s it! Sounds pretty easy right? What makes this diet so easy to follow is that those food categories are SO BROAD. You can create a healthy Mediterranean meal with pretty much any foods you already enjoy! So cool, right?
All of these foods are full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, healthy fats and fiber to help you stay your healthiest. You can also easily find these foods in most restaurants or family dinners, too!
And you know that the Italians enjoy their wine and coffee right? So, yes, go ahead and drink both in moderation!
A Holistic Twist on the Mediterranean Diet
Of course, I do have to provide you with my perspective on this long-running diet.
Because the foods we have access to in North America aren’t processed with as much rigor as those in Europe, there are a few modifications to the Mediterranean Diet that I strongly suggest.
First, skip the dairy. You don’t need it after about age 2, and, really, most people are intolerant to it anyway. Switch to non-dairy alternatives, like unsweetened almond or coconut milk, coconut milk yogurt, or non-dairy cheeses. The only dairy that’s safest to consume here are raw dairy products and extra-aged hard cheeses.
Second, ditch wheat. Wheat is over-processed here and is almost devoid of nutrients anyway. Plus it’s the second most common food allergen and causes a LOT of health symptoms in people (often without them really noticing the connection, which is worse). So, look for wheat-free (or gluten-free, if that’s easier) products, especially in packaged goods like salad dressings, soy sauces and marinades.
Third, the Italians enjoy their baked goods but on a much, much smaller scale that North Americans. So, ditch the sugary garbage! Eat only dark chocolate, bake your own treats with healthier ingredients, and learn to enjoy naturally sweet foods (almonds, apples, berries) instead of reaching for refined sugar. Again, watch food labels for hidden sugars.
Fourth, eat more fat than you do whole grains. On a calorie-per-calorie basis, switch out some whole grains, like bread, rice or pasta, for an equivalent amount of calories using healthy fats. These healthy fats can come from avocado, full-fat coconut milk, ground flaxseed, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, or hempseed oil. Healthy fats will reduce our overall inflammation, which is required for a lower risk of health issues.
The Mediterranean Lifestyle
I visited Italy for 3 weeks a few years ago and let me tell you, the Italians do not stress about much! They’re calm, cool, collected…well, maybe a bit excitable but in general, it doesn’t seem like they sweat the small stuff!
Enhance your new Mediterranean diet with some Mediterranean lifestyle choices too!
Reduce your stress; take time to relax and enjoy life each and every day. Walk more often, too, especially after meals. And take time to enjoy and savor your food.
Try to avoid too much sedentary time. Get up and walk around, join a fitness group, take a fitness class, or hit the gym more often. Just move!
Your National Nutrition Month Challenge
Alright, you’ve got the skinny on one of the healthiest, most sustainable diets in the world! Do you think you can start making a few changes during National Nutrition Month to get on track?
To help you get started, click here to gain access to my FREE 7-Day Meal Plan. You can start anytime and follow it as best as you can.
For people who aren’t sure where to start, the Mediterranean Diet is one of the best programs to follow. You’ll find that it’s relatively easy to fit into your lifestyle, no matter what your life throws at you.
Are you ready to ditch some unhealthy foods and focus on adding in a few healthy Mediterranean foods during National Nutrition Month?
Here are some great resources you check out to help get you started too!