In honor of national nutrition month (March), the experts at Bastyr University are sharing their tips for maintaining a well-balanced, healthy diet.
Take time to eat
Humans require food to be nourished. It’s that simple! Think of all the things you schedule in a week. Feeding yourself must be at the top of the list in order for you to accomplish all those other things well. Plan ahead. Prioritize meals. Respond to your hunger. Take time to eat. It’s a basic human need!
Enjoy your food
Savor the aroma and flavors of your food. Chew with intention and take delight in every mouthful. Eating is a pleasurable experience that engages all our senses, and the food on our plates deserves this careful attention. Sit. Slow down. Enjoy!
Spice it up
Herbs and spices boost foods with calorie-free flavors to make food even more exciting and delicious. As a bonus, many contain bioactive compounds that enhance health by supporting immunity and suppressing inflammation.
Create a feast for your eyes
Nature offers a rainbow of colors as fruits and vegetables that provide your body with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds that have positive health benefits. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower blood pressure, decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, and lower risk for some cancers.
Feed your flora
Did you know that the human body has more bacteria cells than human cells? These bacteria help support good digestion, a strong immune system, and healthy metabolism. Here are two simple ways you can keep your inner residents happy and healthy. First, eat a variety of fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, legumes (beans), fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Secondly, eat fermented foods such as yogurt, pickles, olives, miso, sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented vegetables, and kefir. Food that adds good bacteria into the diet support the resident colonies.
Boost your brain. Mend your mind
The verdict is in! We know what nutrients the human brain needs to stay sharp! That list includes carbohydrates, B vitamins such as folate, and omega 3-fatty acids. To sharpen your brain power, think salmon and other fatty fish, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and folate-rich leafy greens and legumes. Choose your foods wisely for a brain that is wise!
Get back to your roots
Good food grows both above the ground and below, so don’t forget about those that grow in the dark! Root vegetables are packed with nutrition, and they store well for relatively long periods of time. All root vegetables, such as parsnips, rutabagas, carrots, beets, and fennel are filled with nutrients and can be prepared super easily.
Commune at the table
Eating together enhances the enjoyment of any meal. Turn off those distractions from all screens and cell phones and make it a practice to eat with others. Studies show that communing together solidifies family bonds and encourages communication. Plus, eating meals at home can be conducive to consuming more fruits and vegetables.
Raise a glass!
We all know that staying hydrated is important. In addition to tipping back a glass of water, try herbal teas. The options are endless – green, black ginger, hibiscus, mint, and even some exotic ones like rooibos and roasted dandelion root. Tea is high in plant compounds called phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties and are linked with heart health, brain health and a reduced risk of cancer. So raise that glass or that tea cup! A well-hydrated you is a nourished you!
Nourish the “whole you.”
There are countless ways you can nourish the whole you. Nourish your body and brain by getting 7-8 hours most nights of restful, high-quality sleep so you feel rejuvenated and resilient enough to deal with whatever comes your way. Replenish your body and soul by getting outside into nature where you can feel the sun (or mist) on your face, walk in the park, smell the roses, hike the trails, cycle on the paths, or just play and have fun. Nourish your spirit by connecting with other people, including those you love. Hug your child, hug your mom or dad, hug your partner or spouse, hug your grandma. And laugh a lot. Because we all know that laughter is the best medicine to nourish all of you!
A National Nutrition Month Message from the faculty of the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University
Co-contributors: Cristen Harris, Ph.D., RDN, Associate Professor; Kelly Morrow, MS, RDN, Associate Professor; Patrice Savery, MS, Assistant Professor, Alexandra Kazaks, Ph.D., RDN, Associate Professor, and Debra Boutin, MS, RDN, Associate Professor.