March is National Nutrition Month. So let’s get right to it. What does it mean to eat real food and why does it matter? Recent conversations with friends have been triggered by my WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS column about “mindful health”. Are you "mindful" of what you are eating and drinking and the connection to how you feel, what kind of mood you are in, or why you might be taking so many medications? Many people don’t connect the dots that they really are what they eat-until it is too late and they have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, arthritis, or cancer. So nutrition, or what you eat and drink, really DOES matter.
5. Eat whole foods, like fresh vegetables, whole grains like oats and quinoa, lentils, beans, and peas.
6. Stop eating processed foods (think Pop Tarts and McNuggets) which are loaded with added sugars, salt, and fat. Fast, cheap and convenient does NOT mean tasty, nutrient-dense and healthy.
7. Plan family dinners together with no electronics allowed at the table. This has been shown to be a key factor in helping kids (and adults) at a healthy weight.
8. Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential if you want to lose weight.
9. Watch out for sodium (salt). Most Americans eat too much of it (no wonder the pharmaceutical companies are making a killing on medicines for high blood pressure). Half of Americans are advised to limit their salt intake to no more than 2,300 mg a day. The other half of us (everyone 51 years and older, all African-Americans, all Americans with diabetes, hypertension, and/or chronic kidney disease) need to limit their daily intake to LESS THAN 1,500 mg a day (or less than 2/3 teaspoon a day).
10. Support your local farmer. Shop your local green markets. What is grown locally and fresh picked has the most nutritional value and taste. My grandfather was a farmer in southern Indiana. On the summers spent on our family farm, nothing tasted better to me than the tomatoes, bean, and squash my grandmother served at the noon meal every day.
Food should taste good. Savor the flavors. Spend time cooking locally grown foods with those you love. Eat slowly. Light candles and put fresh flowers on your dinner table. Eat real food. Stop eating processed foods (think food that comes in boxes). Share great meals with family and friends. Repeat.
Listen to Chef Michael Glatz of La Patissiere and me talk about food, avocados, and dark chocolate on "Pop Up Health". Our fun weekly talks are fulled with tips, recipes, and resources and serve as a reminder about the power of eating well. To catch this week's "Pop Up Health" with Nancy Heinrich, PLUS learn the history of the croissant from Chef Michael, just click here.