Thursday, November 22, 2012

Making Your Life Healthier: Nutrition

Everyone wants easy, painless ways to make their lives healthier to stay fit and strong. Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to sacrifice taste for nutrition? Alas, such is not usually the case, but there are some things easy things that can help.
  1. Drink water until dinner: treat yourself to some juice, soda, or other drinks at dinnertime. Otherwise, stick to water - it will help you stay hydrated throughout the day, flush out toxins, and help you to lose weight. Avoid caffeine as much as you can: caffeine is a diruetic, so not only will you be dehydrated, but you'll also retain water and those other toxins. If you need something other than water to keep you awake, try some green or herbal teas. Remember, even juices contain a whole lot more sugar (sometimes added) and no fiber compared to their whole fruit counterparts.
  2. Choose whole wheat/grain options: when you order a sandwich or wrap, when you're buying cereal, bread, rice, and pasta, ask and look for healthier options. Whole wheat breads and wraps, whole grain cereals, brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, and whole wheat spaghetti are great alternatives to their less healthy, white cousins (not being racist, I swear). White grains are processed to take out all the shells and hulls, which contain all the fiber and vitamins.
  3. When eating out, make one healthy sacrifice or leave something out: like cheese, sour cream, salt, larger portions, and cream sauces. Choose tomato sauce on pizzas and pastas (cream sauces have tons of butter, salt, dairy - saturated fat!), leave out the cheese (or ask for only 1 slice instead of 2) when ordering a burger, or choose a burrito bowl instead of a burrito (with the tortilla) when at Chipotle. Ask for your local fast food place for no salt on your French fries - not only will they cook you a new batch so that they have no salt (yes, fresh fries!), you can decide how much salt to add later yourself. I guarantee you it will be less.
  4. Add veggies: when eating a burger, add tomato, lettuce, onions, pickles, and mustard. Leave out the cheese (or add less), mayo, or animal style (West coast!). When cooking pasta for yourself, add some raw veggies when cooking the sauce, like mushrooms, small broccoli florets, and bell peppers.
  5. Make a plan for your daily eating: get your body into a routine of when you're eating and what size meal you eat. The most important thing is to get in a habit of designating one time a day for a treat: a glass of wine after dinner (for those 21 and older), dessert after dinner, maybe a fun snack like potato chips mid-afternoon. That way you won't crave those foods at other times.
  6. Eat more, smaller meals: not always possible, but it's much healthier for your body to eat small portions throughout the day. That way, your blood glucose levels never spike, you never feel ravenous, and you generally eat less than you would with three full meals. Your body is designed to store about 4 hours of energy - if you don't eat every four hours, you're technically starving!
  7. Eat breakfast: it doesn't really make sense when you first hear it, but eating breakfast can help you lose weight. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast jumpstart their metabolism at the beginning of the day so they are more productive and awake, burn more calories throughout the day, and generally eat less at other meals because their body is more attuned to feeling when they are full. Even if it's a banana and a glass of milk, or a sugary bowl of cereal, breakfast is important. A nutritionally-packed one is better (of course).


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    1. Great idea! Cross training is excellent for dancers and athletes of all types, and any kind of sport or physical activity can benefit anyone.