Nutrition plays a big role in our lives, and yet maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a focus on nutritious foods can be a challenge. With the New Year coming soon, many must be making resolutions to eat healthy and stay fit too.
But where do I start? How do I pick the healthy from the unhealthy? How much is too much? And so many such questions bombard our minds and bring us down. Well, not anymore.
With 2023 kicking in, I’ve put together a list of smart tips to up your nutrition game.
Welcome omega-3 into your diet
Omega-3 is an essential nutrient, but our body can’t make it from scratch; hence, we must get it from foods. Omega-3 is a source of good fats, and the nutrient is associated with several potential and proven health benefits. For instance, it may play an essential role in reducing the risk of heart disease1, may help support a healthy immune system2 (as part of a healthy diet), and help maintain brain health3, among other functions. They are the only tree nut that is significantly high in plant-based omega-3 ALA.
Protein makes you feel fuller
In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, you must ensure you’re getting enough protein in your diet. A macronutrient that your body needs in large amounts to stay healthy, protein helps curb unnecessary cravings, build lean muscle, and maintain a healthy weight. This nutrient is also used by our body to build and repair tissues. Eggs, chicken, dairy products, and California walnuts are a few good sources of protein to incorporate into your daily diet.
If you plan to snack, how about choosing options that may not hinder your healthy lifestyle? Avoid snacks that are high in sugar, salt, and fat, and opt for fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole-grain snacks. My go-to snack is a handful of California walnuts with black raisins. I pair black raisins with a handful of walnuts – that’s my way of also beating sugar cravings post meals.
Snack Smart with California Walnuts
Practice portion control
Don’t just watch what you eat, but also watch how much you eat – and this isn’t limited to weight-watchers. Whether you are bored, want to finish up leftovers, feel sad, or just have an elaborate spread in front of you – overeating can occur under any circumstances, and you must avoid it. If not, in the long run, it may lead to a variety of illnesses, including obesity and diabetes.
Portion control involves eating a healthy mix of foods in limited quantity, which helps you keep a tight check on how many calories you consume. Use a measuring cup, if needed. Ideally, half your plate should be vegetables, another half should be grains and lean protein.
Read that label!
The first step toward making smarter and safer dietary choices is to read the nutrition label on all the food and drinks that you buy. Aiming for a healthy diet isn’t just about cutting calories or portion control; it also includes paying attention to the ingredients and their nutritional content. This practice also helps you identify if the food contains ingredients that you may be allergic to or intolerant to.
Lastly, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many goals at a time. We all have to start somewhere, carefully select our goals, and do our best to achieve them year after year.
1Fleming JA, Kris-Etherton PM. The evidence for α-linolenic acid and cardiovascular disease benefits: comparisons with eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Adv Nutr. 2014;5(6):863S-76S. doi: 10.3945/an.114.005850
3Barceló-Coblijn G, Murphy EJ. Alpha-linolenic acid and its conversion to longer chain n3 fatty acids: Benefits for human health and a role in maintaining tissue n-3 fatty acid levels. Prog Lipid Res. 2009;48(6):355-74. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2009.07.002
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