You probably read a lot about what’s healthy to eat, or what’s not. But I contend that eating habits and behaviors associated with food (healthy food or junk food) are more important than hyper-focusing on exactly which healthy foods to eat (don’t get me wrong – including healthy foods in your diet is still important). If your habits and attitudes toward eating are healthy, the rest falls into place. Since it’s National Nutrition Month®, getting your behaviors in order is a sure way to Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right!
As we age, our bodies change. There’s no real fighting it. You can maintain a healthy or reasonable weight, but your body simply isn’t going to be the same at 40, 50 or 60 as it was at 25 or 30 years of age. A pinch of fat at your middle, or a little flab on your arm or back, is normal for both men and women. Focus on the positive. Think about what you are doing to maintain your internal health and well being. Think about using exercise and eating well to stay strong, and because it is the right thing to do for your body.
Ten ideas to feed a healthy mind and body:
- Eat your fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. Take advantage of fresh berries in season, and keep apples and bananas on hand all year for a good dose of fiber and antioxidants. Try something new.
- Sip water all day long. Adequate hydration keeps our skin looking healthy and helps our bodies mobilize fatty acids.
- Have a healthy breakfast. Everyone has time for a small bowl of whole grain cereal with non fat or low fat milk or Greek yogurt. Top with fresh berries or a sliced banana. Try a 2-egg omelet (whole eggs or 3 whites) with whole grain toast (On Sundays, you can even make a few omelets, or bake eggs in muffin cups and freeze for the week ahead). Muffins get a bad rap because they are too large. A small bran muffin with peanut butter and 8 ounces nonfat milk is perfectly fine. Bake your own small muffins.
- Eat fish.The omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish such as trout or salmon are good for you. They may help ward off depression and lower your risk of heart disease and arthritis. If you can’t eat two servings of fish weekly, talk to your doctor about a fish oil supplements daily.
- Try yoga.Yoga practice is a great way to find your mind-body connection. It allows you to view yourself from within and focus on the positive aspects of your body.
- Get your calcium and vitamin D. Pre-menopausal women should take in 1000 milligrams of calcium daily or 1200 milligrams if post-menopausal. Men need calcium too, and studies have shown that those who include low fat dairy daily, have better weight control, and lower blood pressure. Drinking two or three glasses of nonfat milk daily is ideal. If you are not getting the calcium you need daily (2-4 servings of non fat or low fat dairy) then consider a supplement.
- Be mindful. We’re often in such a hurry right? Try to set some rules for eating. For instance, do not do anything else but eat when you are eating. This means no more lunches at your desk or breakfasts standing up. Sit down, look at your food, chew slowly and enjoy the taste of the food.
- Focus on the positive. What can you do with your body? If you can do five push ups, celebrate that. Keep working at it each week until you can do eight, and then have another celebration. Don’t you feel better after eating a great meal that includes vegetables and lean protein (as opposed to overeating or eating too many nutrient void foods)? Watch your body with your mind and see how good that feels!
- Take a walk. Even if you only have time for a 10-15 minute stroll, getting fresh air is good for the body and mind. Studies have shown that we utilize more calories walking or jogging outside than on a treadmill. Spring is coming! Get outside (put your sunscreen on)!
- Keep a journal. Writing down your eating and exercise habits will help you stay mindful and will help you set and achieve goals.
Smile! One step at a time, you can develop a stronger, healthier you, imperfect yet beautiful all the same.