Image © Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics | 2015 National Nutrition Month®
More than likely, your schedule is hectic; it’s a series of peaks and valleys with little room for meal planning and physical activities. This month is National Nutrition Month®, a campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which educates and reinforces the public on the importance of developing healthy eating and exercise habits.
Truth is, making informed food choices is not easy. It’s very important to develop a healthy lifestyle – one that focuses on a balance between food and physical activity – in order to manage your weight, reduce risk of chronic disease and support overall health.
So, let’s chat and chew about tips and tricks for the home and workplace to help you achieve healthier habits.
HEALTHY HABITS FOR A HAPPY HOME
At least half of the money Americans spend on food is for meals outside the home. Not only can preparing meals at home lead to financial savings, with all the resources available today, it’s even easier to develop – and maintain – healthier eating habits.
“With busy, on-the-go lifestyles, many Americans have lost touch with their kitchens and thrown in the towel on eating healthy, which is key to prevention of heart disease and stroke.” – Dr. Rachel Johnson, Ph. D., MPH, R.D., Chairperson of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee and Bickford Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont (1)
Below are some tips to help you and your family live a healthier lifestyle:
- Eat meals together. By enjoying meals together, the likelihood that children will eat the wrong foods or snack more decreases. The American Psychological Association reports that in “families who shared at least three meals a week, children were 24 percent more likely to be eating healthy foods than those in families who ate few or no meals together.”
- Make it a family affair. Get kids involved in preparing meals; being conscious of the ingredients used can help nurture healthy eating habits.
- Play some tunes. The American Heart Association suggests listening to a favorite CD and allotting a certain number of songs to complete each chore. For example, you might dedicate two songs to vacuuming the family room and three to washing the dishes. Not only will you and your kids pick up the pace to finish on time, you will also strengthen your heart all while having fun!
- Leave treats to the pets. Rather than use food to show affection or reward your child for good behavior, try fun activities instead. Not only will this encourage bonding and exercise, it will help prevent your kids from using food as a coping mechanism for stress or other emotions later in life.
HEALTHY HABITS WHILE YOU WORK
On average, people SIT for roughly 9.3 hours a day! When you add that to the time you spend commuting, watching TV, or at the computer, it’s no surprise research has attributed sitting for long periods of time to a variety of health issues. As with the home, establishing good habits at the workplace are essential to your health.
Here are some tips to help you work smarter, not harder, towards a healthier lifestyle:
- Upgrade your office chair. When you are sitting close to 8 hours a day at work, knock out your daily workout by replacing your office chair with an exercise ball. Not only is it a great way to strengthen your abdominal area, it reduces wear-and-tear on your spine.
- Brown-paper bag it. An estimated 60 percent of individuals eat out for lunch at least once a week. Going out for lunch several times a week not only adds up in dollars, it greatly increases your daily calorie count. By packing your own lunch, you can easily track your daily calorie, sugar and nutrient intake. Try spicing up your lunch this month. Check out this list of Pack-and-Go Healthy Lunch Recipes for Work from Eating Well Magazine.
- Double-up on your coffee break. No, I’m not suggesting you grab two cups of joe during your midday break. Instead, when you opt for your daily pick-me-up, use the time to stretch your legs. If you can, try taking a 10-15 minute walk around the office parking lot or walk up-and-down the stairwell a few times. Not only will you burn a few calories, it may help clear your mind, reduce stress, refocus, and feel a boost in energy.
- Stay hydrated. Thirst and dehydration can hurt your ability to concentrate, as well as lower your energy and performance levels. Keep a water bottle at your desk to avoid drinking soda and other sugary drinks throughout the day. There’s an added bonus too – every time you refill, it gets you up and moving.
- Time yourself. Similar to how music can keep you on track with chores, a timer at work can help build in short breaks during work hours. Try doing something active—like 20 jumping jacks or a set of quick stretches.
For the remainder of March, challenge yourself to implement at least one new healthy habit at home and work. Or, if you have other ideas, feel free to share in the comment section! If you’re hungry for a change, now’s the time to get moving!