Put Your Best Fork Forward

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics declared March to be National Nutrition Month, and our co-op wants to take any opportunity available to celebrate eating to grow stronger, more healthy people and families!

We deeply value the relationship our co-op has with Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) like Erica Frank, who teaches some of our workshops and creates menu items for our deli case. Keene State College is home to one of the most popular Dietetic Internship programs in the country. The incredible interns who present our Delightfully Healthy! demo series on Fridays are a valuable resource, working on a broad range of projects throughout our community. Find out what an RDN can do to improve your life here.

The eatright.org website has a wealth of information for those looking to begin or further their journey to enjoying a more healthy diet and feeding your kids a healthy diet. They have tip sheets and blog posts about:

While not all bodies respond to all foods in a similar fashion, and you should definitely experiment to find out which foods your body thrives on, eatright.org’s basic advice is great to live by and refer to when making incremental but important changes in your diet.  Read on for a few of our favorite tips!

Make Your Calories Count
Think nutrient-rich rather than “good” or “bad” foods.  The majority of your food choices should be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients, and lower in calories. Making smart food choices can help you stay healthy, manage your weight and be physically active. Nutrient rich foods are generally vegetables and fruits, with leafy green vegetables having nutrient to calorie ratios to which no other foods can compare!

Focus on Variety
Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups to get the nutrients your body needs. Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, frozen or canned. Eat more dark green vegetables such as leafy greens and broccoli and orange vegetables including carrots and sweet potatoes. Vary your protein choices with more fish, beans and peas. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day. Adding healthy snacks to your diet is an excellent way to introduce variety between meals to help you feel satisfied, get the lowdown from HealthAmbition.com on 10 healthy snacks to add to your weekly routine.

Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber to your plate. Set a goal of eating 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily. Experiment with different types, including fresh, frozen and canned.

Make a List
What foods would you like to ensure are in your house? Make a list and bring it to the grocery store (or put it on your phone if you tend to forget paper lists).  Sticking to the list while you shop will help you ensure you make healthy food choices and is sure to save you money!

Consider Some Changes
Could you buy whole-wheat bread instead of white? How about baking sweet potatoes or brown rice as the base of your meal, instead of pasta again? Could you substitute apple slices dipped in almond butter for that sugary granola bar? You don’t have to make every change right away if you’re not ready. Ease yourself and your family into healthier ingredients one at a time.

Do the Math
How many people are in your family? If each person should eat a minimum of two pieces of fruit per day and there are four in your family, that means you need eight pieces of fruit in your house for each day. Do the same calculation with other food groups so you know how much to buy.

Change the Environment
Once you bring your groceries home, make healthy foods more inviting. Fill a fruit bowl with fresh fruit you just purchased and put it in the easiest place for you to grab a piece when you want a snack. Clean and cut fresh vegetables right away and put them in plastic bags so they are convenient to grab and eat. Changing your eating habits is only as easy as you make it for yourself, so don’t make yourself choose between that open box of cookies and carrots that have to be washed and chopped up when you are hungry and in a hurry.

Avoid Colorful Boxes
If a food is processed & packaged in a colorful box, there is a good chance it is not as good for you as something nature packaged and colored for you like berries, a banana, an apple or an orange coupled with nuts to make for a more satisfying snack. Beware of processed things marketed as “healthy” like many yogurts, which often include more added sugar than ice cream! Nature doesn’t need to make health claims like this, as whole foods generally have a wide range of nutrients that are expertly combined with good ratios of fiber, protein and fat. You can also rely on the wide range of whole grains and ingredients in the bulk section to be much more affordable per serving than anything in colorful (and expensive) packaging!