Unhealthy diet contributes to approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the U.S..
But it’s not just an unhealthy diet that you should be afraid of.
According to Center for Science in the Public Interest, you should also be aware that leading contributors to premature death are:
- High blood pressure- 442,700 deaths
- High body-mass index- 364,000 deaths
- Physical inactivity- 234,000 deaths
- High total cholesterol- 158,400 deaths
Your health and nutrition is more important now than ever, and we want to help!
Here are a few tips that you can use to stay healthy this National Nutrition Month, (and every month after that!).
Avoid processed food
We are all busy these days, and unfortunately, the easiest meals to eat are frozen, canned, and ready-to-eat meals.
These are all processed foods, and contain high amounts of sugar, fat, and salt. The three big no-no’s if you’re striving for a healthy diet.
Even those Healthy Choice meals and Lean Cuisine are falsely advertising. Just check their nutrition labels! The evidence is all there.
My advice? Take 2 hours out of your week to cook, bake and prepare healthy, organic meats and veggies.
Throw half in the freezer for the end of the week, and refer to Chef Mike to help heat up your healthy meals for the following days!
Trust me, you will feel less dehydrated and have more energy throughout the day!
Don’t drink your calories
The average daily calorie intake for a man is about 2,500 calories.
The average daily calorie intake for a woman is about 2,000 calories.
The issue with these numbers is people think that it’s all about eating calories and don’t think about the drinks they consume.
Here is a little list of popular drinks with their amount of calories:
- 12oz can of cola: 140 calories
- 16oz cup of coffee with 3 cream and 3 sugar: 105 calories
- 16oz glass of sweetened iced tea: 90 calories
- 1 cup of unsweetened iced tea: 2 calories
Not too bad, right? If you are drinking these in moderation.
The trick is, these can easily add up. How many cups of coffee do you drink per day? What about soda?
And what about Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and Burger King? Do you go out and grab these drinks once in awhile?
- Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Cappuccino: 410 calories, 16g fat, 270mg salt, 54g sugar
- Jamba Juice Peanut Butter Shake: 840 calories, 21g fat, 11g sugar
- Burger King Chocolate Ice Cream Shake: 950 calories, 29g fat, 640mg salt, 146g sugar
These drinks can easily add up to one or two of your daily meals!
And lastly, what about alcohol and cocktails?
Watch out, happy hour! These drinks can be a whole meal themselves:
- 5oz of white or red wine: 160 calories
- 12oz of lager beer: 170 calories
- 1.5oz of tequila or whiskey: 104 calories
- 1.5oz of vodka or gin: 97-101 calories
- 7.5oz Gin & Tonic: 170 calories
- 8oz Margarita (blended, rocks, flavored, or original): 280-356 calories
- 10oz Rum & Coke: 356 calories
- 4oz Cosmopolitan: 200 calories
- 12oz Long Island Iced Tea: 789 calories
After a long day at work, it’s nice to kick back and enjoy a brewski!
But just remember that drinks count for your daily calorie intake as well.
My suggestion? Keep track of your daily calorie intake. I use the app My Fitness Pal. Track your meals and drinks for a week and see what the results are! I bet you’ll be surprised on how fast calories can add up.
Side note: watch out for diet cola! It may say o calories, but diet cola is filled with chemicals, additives, and artificial sweeteners. Although these ingredients normally don’t make you gain weight, they can still be bad for your overall health.
Eat fatty fish and lean meat
Note that “fatty” in this context does not mean high in cholesterol, sugar, etc. 😉
Fatty fish are fish that help you increase your omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-3 fatty acids are great for your health!
Fish caught in the wild normally have higher levels of fatty acids than farm raised fish, but both will work.
The best fatty fish are mackerel (1.8%), lake trout (1.6%), herring (1.5%), sardines (1.4%), albacore tuna (1.3%), and salmon (1.1%).
Besides eating plenty of fish, lean meat is also a great protein to add to your diet!
Simple rule, look for the words “round” and “loin”. These words mean the cuts of meat have a lower fat content than other cuts.
Some types of lean meat include:
- Skinless poultry
- Top loin
- Sirloin tip
- Ground round
- Pork center loin
- Pork tenderloin
- Lamb tenderloin
Most of the cuts above have 3 grams or less of fat. They are also very high in protein, which is great for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Having a serving or two of these per day or every other day is great for your nutrition plan and diet! They’re low in fat, high in protein, and tasty to eat:)
Drink enough water
The body is about 60% water, and we are always losing water through urine and sweat.
The rule of thumb is “8×8”. You should drink eight 8-ounce glasses/bottles of water per day.
That equals to about a half gallon of water per day.
You will hear different advice about this, and to be honest, it really depends on your body type and diet.
I was told that I should drink half of my body weight in ounces every day, and that works great for me.
Water isn’t just a necessity, but a key player in quite a few different categories:
- Water increases energy and relieves fatigue
- Promotes weight loss
- Flushes out toxins
- Improves skin complexion
- Boosts immune system
There are so many other benefits of water that you just have to read about! Check out the blog by mindbodygreen.
It seems simple, but drinking enough water is so important.
And if you don’t drink enough water, you can run into issues like headaches, fatigue, dry skin, muscle cramps, and constipation.
Remember, 8×8! Don’t cut corners when it comes to consuming water.
Get enough sleep
For some of us, sleep is listed last on our priority list.
We are all busy, some of us working “too much”, studying too much, playing on our phones too much.
But it is essential that you get a consistent amount of sleep every night. More consistency=better quality of sleep
Here it is: Adults should sleep between 7 and 9 hours every night.
But, even if you give the time for your 7-9 hour re-boot, you may not have the quality of sleep you deserve.
Sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity, and that’s important to remember.
Here are some tips on how you can get more shut-eye every night:
- Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow (sounds like common sense right?)
- Exercise daily. This is overall great for your health and well-being
- Keep a notepad or journal by your bed. Write down all thoughts, ideas, to-do’s before you shut off the light
- Shut your phone off once you hit the sheets. Really. No social media, checking emails, or texting your bff. The blue light on your phone is known to ruin your sleep
- Be consistent. Try to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time as much as possible. This will help your sleep quality.
- Try not to eat right before bed, especially food and drinks that are high in sugar content. Food=Calories=Energy=Poor sleep quality
Some relaxing rituals right before you lay down may help, too. Meditation and/or breathing exercises will prepare your body for the rest that will come.
I also like to read a book. Reading always leads me to a relaxing level that puts me to sleep, whether I am ready to or not!
Catch up on your zzz’s every night, and you will find that it directly effects your diet and nutrition: no need for 6 cups of coffee the next day, no reaching for high sugar snacks to give you an energy boost, etc. You will have more natural energy to go through your day productively.
Stay healthy, be happy
Nutrition is the key element to a healthy lifestyle.
Having a great diet will lower your chances of having high blood pressure, a high body-mass index, and high cholesterol.
Eating the right foods, drinking enough water, and getting plenty of sleep will simply just make you a healthier and happier you!
There are no negative side effects with focusing on an awesome and healthy nutrition plan.
Use this month, National Nutrition Month, to get you started.
Once you start this journey to a healthier lifestyle, you won’t want to stop.
Stay healthy to be happy. You won’t regret it:)