Today’s blog post is the third in a special series of posts that celebrates the month of May as Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, the international observance of health and fitness in the workplace. Our series, titled “Mind, body, and stomach,” is the work of Jim Heffernan, senior accountant at Discovery and Employee Wellness Committee ambassador.
I do love me some food! I believe you could deep-fry just about anything and it would taste great. I know it’s not good for me, but it just tastes so good! Growing up in an Italian household probably didn’t help me learn how to make good food choices. When you are surrounded by breads and pastas and wonderful desserts, it’s not easy to pick healthier options to snack on.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize how important it is to incorporate healthier foods into my diet. Healthier foods help maintain a healthy body weight, increase proper nutrition, and promote an overall healthy body. Try some of these easy tips to improve your diet today!
Increase fruits and vegetables
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is known to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, decrease digestive problems, and even prevent some types of cancer. Fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients that can improve the health of your body.
Need some ideas on how to increase your intake? Add roasted veggies to your meal. Find seasonal vegetables, sprinkle with olive oil, and roast them up. Stack veggies on your sandwich. Most people already add lettuce and tomatoes, but consider slicing up a cucumber or shredding a carrot and adding it to your sandwich. Make it a lettuce wrap and swap out the bread altogether! Add fresh fruit to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning, or pair fruits with cheese and a good glass of wine for an evening treat.
Good carbs to eat
Carbohydrates are one of the body’s primary sources of energy and are an essential part of a healthy diet. A healthy diet should include more complex carbohydrates than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are high in fiber and starch and take longer for the body to digest. They contain more essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Examples include grains, beans, and oats. Simple carbohydrates contain natural sugars easily digested by the body to provide quick energy. Examples of good simple carbs include fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products. Some examples of bad simple carbs include refined foods like soda, white sugar, and pastries. These are the items that should be a very limited part of your diet.
When you are cooking, try to use brown rice instead of white. Brown rice is a whole grain and higher in fiber than white rice, which has been processed. Brown rice also helps lower cholesterol, promotes fullness, and can help prevent blood clots. Another good carb to incorporate are vegetables, as mentioned above. Try baking a sweet potato or adding a side of roasted vegetables. You can’t go wrong with a simple side salad either—vegetable combinations are endless.
Water, water, water
Did you know that water carries nutrients to the cells in your body and oxygen to the brain? It helps the body absorb vitamins and minerals essential to the function of your organs. Water also helps regulate the body’s temperature and maintain bodily functions. It can boost skin health and lubricate joints, promoting beauty and reducing pain. Water is also a main component of the digestive system, converting food into energy and excreting waste from the body.
You might be thinking it’s boring to drink a simple glass of water. Well, it can be. But did you know there are many food options high in water content? Cucumbers, tomatoes, and spinach are over 93% water. Melon, apples, and oranges are over 85% water. Besides the water consumption, these fruits and vegetables are good sources of the daily nutrients our bodies need. I bet you could grab a few off this list of top hydrating foods and toss them together to make a delicious salad or fruit plate!
Another way to maintain a healthy diet is to add healthy snacks to your day. Healthy snacks can increase your energy level and help you lose weight. They can improve your concentration, increase memory, and enhance awareness. Be prepared—have an assortment of healthy options available to keep you on track. Examples of healthy snacks include an apple or carrot sticks. Grab a handful of cashews. Have a bowl of cottage cheese and add some berries. Looking for additional snack ideas? Check out SnackNation’s list of healthy and filling snacks.
In addition to these tips, keep in mind it’s not always what you eat, but how! You need to get to the root of your nutritional imbalances. It’s not always where you go for lunch, but how often you go and what you choose to eat. Are you eating food too close to bedtime on a regular basis? Are weekends becoming your cheat days and causing you to binge on unhealthy foods? Mindful eating can even be as simple as looking at how quickly or slowly you eat your meals. There are many factors to look at when trying to sustain a healthy diet. Just remember, baby steps—Rome wasn’t built in a day.