5 Easy Ways to Get a Nutrition Boost
Sometimes you just need to take things to the next level, and that includes what you’re putting on your plate and pouring into your glass each day. Maybe you are one of those people who eat a pretty healthy diet most days with only occasional cheat days or calorie splurges. And maybe you even exercise pretty regularly. But if you had to honestly answer how good-for-you your daily meals and snacks actually are, you’d probably agree there’s room for improvement.
Goals like this don’t require a whole-diet makeover. What you need are easy ways to give yourself a boost in nutrition, how to tweak your diet to make it even healthier – and understand what things you need less of in your life.
Here are some simple tips to help give your body the leg-up it needs to move to the next level:
Count your colors. Everyone has heard about “eating a rainbow” and focusing on fruits and vegetables to improve your diet. But instead of zeroing in on exact portion sizes or how many carbs are in your salad, try keeping track of how healthy your meals are by noticing how many colorful foods you are eating each day. A bright yellow pepper sliced and dipped in hummus for a snack. A handful of blueberries to top your breakfast yogurt. The different shades of green in a salad of mixed romaine, spinach and baby kale. The best way to get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs each day is to keep your meals colorful by eating fruits and vegetables from the five main color groups, according to the American Heart Association. These are the blue/purple, red/pink, green, white and yellow/orange groups, and you can see that list here.
Love your beans. Poor beans. They are often an afterthought when we’re pulling last-minute meals together or planning ahead for our week. But canned or freshly-prepared beans are a nutritional powerhouse. They are a great source of protein, especially for those of us eating less red meat these days. Beans contain a lot of fiber, which helps our digestive system run smoothly. People who eat them regularly often have a slimmer waist and healthier body-mass index (BMI) number, too. Add a small bowl to your meal, or sprinkle them on salads and tuck them in quesadillas.
Smoothies as a nutrition blast. There’s probably not a faster way to make nutrition fun and delicious than whipping up a smoothie in your blender. Start with a couple of your favorite fruits, add in a veggie – even a big handful of spinach. You can drop in a few spoons full of yogurt. If you like yours thinner, try adding almond milk or coconut water for a change. Swirl it up and pour it into a glass to start your day or for a snack.
Trim the sugar. This one can be tough. While sugar occurs naturally in lots of foods, it’s the added sugars found in processed foods that can be dangerous to our health. Too much sugar can lead to high blood pressure, inflammation and chronic issues that are the pathway to heart disease and cancer, research has found. So the goal is to take away added sugars a little at a time until you are within the range recommended by the American Heart Association: 9 teaspoons (36 grams) or less each day for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) or less each day for women.
Push away the processed foods. Call it clean eating or whole-food eating, but fixing foods for yourself and not relying on frozen meals or processed foods is a big win for your daily diet. Take a hard look at where the processed foods are popping up in your day – crackers, chips, store-bought cookies – and make different choices.
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