Learning what information to follow and what to ignore can be quite difficult when it comes to diet and eating right. There are so many 'rules' to follow and many sources conflict with one another. Even the USDA states the daily or weekly dietary needs 'depends on your age, gender, and level of physical activity'. There is one similarity though, and it's about the basics: eat your fruits and veggies, incorporate whole grains, include 'good fats' and avoid too much red meat, drink loads of water and keep those calories in check. Try these techniques and you'll instantly improve your overall health this week: make them a habit and you'll reap the rewards for life:
Seafood contributes a range of nutrients, notably the omega-3 fatty acids that are so good for us. It is also a great source of protein and is low in saturated fats. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times a week while the USDA Dietary Guidelines states that there is moderate evidence showing consumption of 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood is associated with reduced cardiac deaths (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, p.39). If you are worried about what types are best or potential mercury levels, do some research, choose wisely, and then reap the benefits by adding one (or two!) more servings of seafood to your diet each week.
We've all heard the edict that 8 glasses of water a day are mandatory. But water consumption depends - like all daily dietary needs - on your lifestyle: sedentary individuals require less water than active people. The general rule of thumb is, everyone should drink 8, 8oz glasses of water a day, and for every hour you exercise, drink an additional 8 oz of water.
Increasing your water intake can take be a challenge at first, but it's so worth it. In addition to the health benefits of H2O, studies have shown that you can lose weight by drinking more. Double your water intake for a week (plain water, not sugary sports drinks or diet sodas) and you'll feel the difference. Can't remember to drink your water? No problem, there is an app for that.
Women and men aged 30-50 are recommended to consume 17.5 to 21 cups of veggies and 10.5 to 14 cups of fruit each week. That breaks down to 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2.5-3 cups of vegetables per day. Sound like a lot? That's because it is. American's only eat 59% of their daily vegetables and 42% of their fruits (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010; pg. 46.). The CDC states that a growing body of research shows that fruits and vegetables are critical to promoting good health. DTG Tip: Display the goods! Grab a decorative bowl and fill it up with colorful fruits and crunchy veggies, set it out in plain view. Not only will it liven up your kitchen or dining room, it will be a constant reminder to snack smart.
This motto by the USDA ("make half your gains whole") is one we can take to heart - literally - as consuming fiber and nutrient-rich whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease. When you are at the grocery store, look for whole wheat, bulgur, oats, brown rice, anything that contains the entire grain kernel and hasn't been refined. When grains are refined (think white rice), they have been milled and stripped of the goodness of the whole grain. Remember the motto and go through your pantry, making at least half your grains whole.
Can't you just hear your mother: 'Don't forget to take your vitamins!' Well, she was right. Even if we try to eat right, sometimes we don't get all the nutrition we need from our daily diet. A multi-vitamin ensures your body gets its daily nutritional requirements. However there is still the possibility of getting too much of a good thing. Be sure to consult with your doctor before taking any new vitamins.
Author: Lillie Lancaster