Celebrate National Nutrition Month by investing in your health

March is National Nutrition Month and along with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics I invite you to focus on developing sound eating and physical activity habits.  A healthy diet and regular physical activity are essential to a healthy life and, despite what we may think, small habits done consistently can have a big impact on the quality and quantity of our lives. This year’s theme, “Eat right, bite by bite” highlights the benefits of small action.  Bite by bite and step by step we can achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being. Here are some of my top tips for making healthy eating and physical activity the easy choices .

  1. Do some dinner prep in the morning.  Who wants to cut and prep vegetables after a long day of work?  Not me. If I don’t have them cut and ready there is a good chance they won’t make it onto my dinner plate.  Taking five minutes in the morning to snip the green beans or cut the Brussels sprouts makes the healthy choice the easy choice and ensures that I’ll have a well balaned dinner with plenty of vegetables.  
  2. Keep frozen vegetables on hand for lunch.  If you bring your lunch to work and plan to microwave it, you don’t even need to cook the vegetables first.  They’ll cook up perfectly when you’re heating your lunch. It doesn’t get any easier than tossing a handful of frozen broccoli or green beans in your tupperware.
  3. Pack an afternoon snack.  Going from lunch to dinner without eating is a long stretch of time and can often promote snacking on less healthy options when we get home.  A good snack choice is something that contains protein, carbohydrate and fat. An apple and 20 almonds or a snack size container of hummus and a handful of pretzels are two good options.  Having a small snack in the afternoon ensures that you’ll get home ready to tackle the evening without having to make a pit stop in your pantry.
  4. If you’re a dessert person when you dine out, look at the dessert menu before looking at the dinner menu.  If there is a dessert that you just have to have, choose a lower calorie entree or skip the appetizer so you can indulge without the guilt or the expanding waistline.  
  5. Schedule a short walk every day at work.  Put it on your calendar and make it a non-negotiable.  A ten minute walk in the afternoon is an investment that will pay back big dividends in your energy, creativity, productivity and health.  Invite a coworker and use that time to nurture those relationships. People who have close relationships at work report the highest levels of overall well-being and having friends at work just makes it that much more enjoyable.

These practices don’t take a lot of time but over time they will certainly add up to better health and better energy.  If you have tips for how you make the healthy choice the easy choice, I’d love to hear them. If you want some support incorporating some healthier behaviors into your life, schedule an appointment with a Cigna health coach or make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian.  You can find a health coach by going myCigna.com. Click on Manage My Health and select My Health Assistant Online Coaching from the drop down menu. If you’d like to make an appointment with a dietitian, you can find one here or ask your primary care provider for a referral.