March is National Nutrition Month. The theme this year is "Nutrition from the Ground Up". Even more exciting...March 10th is Registered Dietitian's Day. How exciting for all of the individuals who have turned a passion into a career of teaching others how to eat better, lose weight or prevent/treat/manage disease. I am well on my way to being able to have my own day (other than my birthday) and to celebrate my hard work and MANY years of education. But for now, I will just wish all of the RD's out there a Happy RD day on Wednesday :)
How appropriate for my personal philosophy of healthy eating and viewing food for fuel.
If you follow my blog, you know how much I enjoy my plant-based diet, which emphasizes lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and low fat protein. As a vegetarian, endurance athlete, I can't stress how important it is to focus on a balanced of nutrients in order to maintain energy levels, feel satisfied at meals/prevent overeating, improve fitness and improve quality of life (disease prevention).
The American Dietetic Association is a great resource for individuals who seek a healthier lifestyle. It is important that if you are an athletic individual who seeks fitness and/or weight loss gain that you are also focusing on ways to improve the quality of life through healthy eating...which is ultimately the priority in choosing the foods your put in your body. I have found that many "diet" or "weight loss" guidelines do not fulfill the daily requirements for athletes and thus, athletes are often confused on how to maintain energy on a Calorie-restricted diet. On the flip side, many athletes are taught by "old-school" dietitians who believe that athletes need 4000+ calories a day to sustain energy for a 1-2 hr daily workout routine.
Sure, it takes some time to find what works for you based on your individual weight loss and/or performance goals, in addition to lifestyle commitments. However, never underestimate the value of Nutrition from the Ground Up and how valuable fruits and veggies can be in your athletic/fitness lifestyle.
If you have time for some educational nutrition-related reading, check out this page on the ADA website:
American dietetic association
For now, here are 20 ways to enjoy more fruits, veggies, whole grain and dairy from the American Dietetic Association (ADA):
To get the most nutrition out of your calories, choose foods packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients - and lower in calories. Pick fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat dairy more often. Be aware of portion sizes. Even low-calories foods can add up when portions are larger than you need.
1) Variety abounds when using vegetables as toppings. Try broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.
2) Get saucy with fruit. Puree berries, apples, peaches or pears fro a thick, sweet sauce on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry or on pancakes, french toast or waffles.
3) mix up a breakfast smoothie made with low fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.
4) Heat leftover whole-grain rice w/ chopped apple, nuts and cinnamon.
5) Make a veggie wrap w/ roasted vegetables and low fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla.
6) Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips with your favorite dip or low-fat salad dressing.
7) Grill colorful vegetables instead of chips with your favorite dip or low-fat salad dressing.
7) Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions.
8) Banana split: top a sliced banana with a scoop of low fat frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of chopped nuts.
9) Add color to salads with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, spinach leaves or mandarin oranges.
10) Prepare instant oatmeal w/ low fat or fat free milk in place of water. Top with dried cranberries and almonds.
11) Stuff an omelet with vegetables. Turn any omelet into a heart meal with broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes or onions with low-fat sharp cheddar cheese.
12) "Sandwich" in fruits and veggies. Add pizzazz to sandwiches with sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumbers and tomato as fillings.
13) Wake up to fruit. Make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, ready-to-eat cereal, yogurt or toaster waffle.
14) Stock up: fill your fridge w/ raw veggies and fruit - "nature's fast food" - cleaned, fresh and ready to eat.
15) Top a baked potato w/ beans and salsa or broccoli and low fat cheese.
16) Microwave a cup of tomato or vegetable coup for a quick afternoon snack.
17) "Grate" complement: Add grated, shredded or chopped veggies such as zucchini, spinach and carrots to lasagna, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce and rice dishes.
18) Stuff a whole grain pita w/ ricotta cheese and Granny smith apple slices. Add a dash of cinnamon.
19) Make your main dish a salad of dark, leafy greens and other colorful vegetables. Add chickpeas or edamame (fresh soybeans). Top with low fat dressing.
20)Try this recipe for an easy, healthy snack. Surprise! Popcorn is a whole grain.
3 cups popped fat-free unsalted popcorn
1 tbsp sliced almonds
2 tbsp raisins or other fruit fruit (cranberries, apricots or dates)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1) In a medium bowl, combine ingredients and toss well.
*Makes 1 serving
Sat fat: 1g
Sodium: 274 mg