The things we eat and drink make a big difference in our day-to-day lives. When life gets busy, it’s easy to fall into the habit of grabbing fast food, popping something salty into the microwave, or making a meal out of whatever’s in the vending machine. These less-than-healthy choices can quickly become habits. As a result, nutrition can take a nosedive.
Good nutrition is an important part of overall health. Eating a balanced diet full of nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains helps keep the whole body working at its best. Nutrition affects the body’s processes and abilities by:
- Sustainably keeping energy levels high
- Strengthening the immune system to fight disease
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Keeping the heart and brain healthy
Like many things in life, nutrition builds on itself. If you feel like your choices could use a tune-up, try these simple changes:
Swap out soda for sparkling water.
Soda, whether diet or not, is full of sugar and other chemicals that don’t do anything beneficial for you. For a hit of fizz and flavor without all the sludge, hit up the sparkling water aisle of your grocery store. The options are plentiful, and something different seems to always be hitting the shelves. With flavors from plain to dragonfruit, you’re sure to find a favorite.
Go for whole grain.
When you’re buying bread, choose whole grain instead of white. This quick habit change will boost your regular intake of protein, fiber and important nutrients like B vitamins and iron. The ingredient list must say whole wheat flour or whole grains, not refined flour or similar. Brands can make bogus claims on packaging, but the ingredient list contains the full truth.
Make some lower carb substitutions.
Too many empty carbohydrates can slow your body down. To lower your carb intake, look for plant-based wraps, corn tortillas, or large leafy grains as vessels for your sandwich or taco ingredients. And if you’re a pasta fan, try some zoodles (zucchini noodles)!
Build from a solid foundation.
A healthy meal doesn’t have to be complicated! Lots of highly nutritious foods are simple to prepare and customize. Eggs, fish like tilapia and salmon, stuffed peppers, canned salmon or tuna, and quinoa are all quick good-for-you solutions you can customize with vegetables, proteins, and spices.
Take a break from meat.
Getting your daily serving of fruits and vegetables is a lot more manageable when meat literally isn’t on the table. Is there one night a week you can go meatless? Chickpeas, lentils, eggplant, black beans, jackfruit, and tofu are all tasty options to explore. Who knows – you might find a new favorite!
Supplement when necessary.
Sometimes, you may be missing crucial vitamins and minerals. Talk with your doctor about how to safely supplement any deficiencies. If you’re concerned about your overall health and aren’t connected with a healthcare professional, the providers at Roseman Medical Group are experts in compassionate and patient-centered care.
It’s important to note that nutrition can be impacted by systemic issues, not just individual choices. Across our communities, people may live in food deserts where they lack access to fresh produce. Associated costs and time crunches also have a real effect on dietary choices. The USDA estimated that even in 2009, 23.5 million people lived in low-income areas more than one mile from a supermarket. Access to transportation also hampers the ability to get fresh food. Simply having somewhere to piece together a meal isn’t enough, since heavily processed foods available at corner stores can put individuals at risk for diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and other health concerns that can stem partially from diet.
Community gardens or farmer’s markets might be more local, if infrequent, options to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Buy in bulk at the store. Frozen vegetables and fruit are just as nutritious as fresh and can be kept for months. Brown rice, beans, oats, and eggs also have relatively long shelf lives. At the convenience store, pick up healthy options like almonds, string cheese, and pretzel thins. Local food banks like Three Square, Meals on Wheels, and AmpleHarvest.org can provide assistance.
Additional help in the Las Vegas area can be found at: