Among the numerous ‘holidays’ and recognitions assigned to the month of March, is the one designating March as National Nutrition Month. It’s a good fit, seeing as how March is the month when we start thinking about planting all those yummy garden vegetables, visiting the pick-your-own berry farms (or buy fresh berries they’ve picked for you), and making one of our weekly errands a stop at the local farmer’s market. Yes, March is the perfect time to re-think your daily food intake to make sure you are eating a balanced and healthy diet.
I have a confession to make, though. In the latter stages of Granny’s life, I was less than adamant that she eat a balanced diet each and every day. Her Alzheimer’s was at a point that it was difficult to get her to eat anything at all, so with the blessing of her doctor, I let her eat whatever she wanted. FYI: peanut butter cups were a staple with her.
Prior to that stage in her life, however, Granny had eaten a very healthy diet, which is why at the age of 96, I wasn’t too worried about the candy ‘thing’. Her diet, which consisted of everything made from scratch, fresh or home-canned veggies, jelly, fruit, and only whole milk, real butter, and meat they either raised on their farm or bought from another local farmer. I know that’s not possible for most people these days. But that doesn’t mean you cannot eat fresh, healthy, and even locally grown food. It just takes a little extra thought when it comes to shopping. And if you think the cost will be higher, think again.
So, keeping all this in mind, take a few minutes to look over these suggestions for how YOU can eat a healthier diet and celebrate March by making it YOUR START TO BETTER NUTRITION.
- Whole milk vs. skim or 2%. Whole is always better.
- Skip the no or low-fat versions of things. These products make up the ‘fat’ with chemicals that are worse for you than the fat.
- Don’t skip breakfast. A scrambled egg or two with a cup of coffee and an English muffin, a bowl of oatmeal, or a bowl of wholegrain cereal and fruit are all great options. Cinnamon rolls, pastries, or granola/granola bars are not. These things are loaded with carbs, sugar, and fat.
- Don’t deprive yourself of sweets or other treats that are not necessarily good for you. Just limit your intake to small portions once or twice a week.
- I realize it isn’t easy or even very much fun to cook for just one or two. But if you do a week’s worth at a time (or even more), you will be more apt to eat healthy foods regularly. Here’s what works for many seniors I spoke with: Choose a day each week or two to cook several different dishes. Keep plenty of individual-sized freezable containers to put the food in. Cook full recipes of each dish but freeze it in servings for one or two. At the start of each day, take out what you’ll need for lunch or dinner…or both. Some of the best things to cook and freeze include:
- Homemade chicken/noodle soup
- Chicken or turkey and dressing
- Beef stew with potatoes and carrots
- Chicken pot pie
- Sloppy Joe
- Hamburger patties (form the patties out of lean ground beef, freeze raw, and bake, grill, or fry when ready to eat)
- Ham and beans
- Vegetable and vegetable/beef soup
- Keep fresh fruit and salad fixin’s on hand
- Water…drink lots of water and forget soda or other carbonated beverages. Don’t fall for the ‘zero calorie’ drinks, either. They contain chemical sweeteners that are just as bad, if not worse for your body than sugar.
- Sugar and salt should be kept to a minimum.
It all comes down to what the diet and nutrition gurus refer to as ‘clean eating’. FYI: That’s a fancy way of saying that the majority of your diet (at least 75%) should come from whole, fresh, unprocessed foods. The more processes they’ve been through (real or manufactured like cheese curls) before they appear on your plate, the dirtier they are (vs. clean, as in clean eating).
Eating a healthy diet just makes sense. It keeps your digestive system working properly, your heart stays healthier, your bones, joints, and muscles are more flexible and less prone to injury, your stress level is reduced, you make fewer visits to the doctor, your overall attitude is refreshingly more cheerful, and you are less likely to develop debilitating diseases and illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, IBS, heart disease, osteoporosis, and much more.
So, keeping all this in mind, answer this: What’s for dinner at your house tonight?
NOTE: Eating a healthy diet is always best for your body but be sure to check with your doctor before making any significant changes to your eating habits, to ensure a medication will not interfere with any medications you might be on.
Guest post By Darla Nobel
The views expressed by the author may not reflect the views of Age Safe America, LLC. The content here should not be taken as medical, legal or financial advice. The content here is for informational purposes only, and because each person is so unique, please consult your own healthcare, legal or financial professional with any questions.