November is Eat Smart Month. This is part of the Healthy for Good initiative created by the American Heart Association encouraging people to eat smart, add color, move more and be well.
The goal of this initiative is to inspire, motivate and encourage everyone to live healthier and create lasting change one small step at a time. Let’s be honest, the phrases “eat smart” and “move more” can be a bit daunting, especially since the holiday season is right around the corner.
With all the delicious — but not always the healthiest — festive foods, eating smart can be tough, and moving more can be a struggle with the busy holiday season. I am going to do my best — with help from the American Heart Association — to give you some quick tips and encouragement to make healthy choices when it comes to eating and moving more.
Eating healthy does not have to mean dieting or giving up all the foods you love. It means making smart choices, like learning to ditch the junk food and sodas, giving your body the nutrient-dense fuel it needs, and being more aware of what is on your plate.
The American Heart Association shares the following quick tips to help you eat smart:
• Healthy eating is all about smart choices and small, sustainable changes.
• Get the facts on fats; some are better for you than others.
• To eat smart, include plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.
• Make breakfast a healthy habit.
• Get your four fruit and five vegetable servings every day.
• Reading food labels can help you make good choices.
• Watch out for sneaky sodium in meals and snacks: it can really add up.
• Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients and fiber.
• Avocados are a satisfying snack and source of healthy fats.
• Do not let excuses for overindulging derail your healthy eating intentions.
• Yes, you can include some processed foods and still eat smart.
• Sip smarter: replace sugary drinks with better choices and drink more water.
• Whole grains are healthy carbs and an important part of a smart eating pattern.
• Eating smart starts with shopping smart at the grocery store.
• Cooking foods in healthier ways brings out their natural flavors.
• On game day, skip the chips. Dip with crunchy, delicious fruits and veggies instead.
• Healthy eating habits start at home with simple steps.
• Right-size portions to keep calories in check.
• Eat fish for a helping of healthy fats and proteins.
One of the great things about Eat Smart Month is that it takes place as the holiday season is kicking off. Holidays are about family, so take this opportunity to involve the whole family. Children can help with meal planning, grocery shopping and even cooking. Let each family member be chef for a day and take charge of a particular meal. There are many ways to get the family involved.
It is easier to “move more” than you think. A simple way to move more would be to not take the parking spot closest to the door. By simply parking farther away from the door when you go shopping or out to eat or wherever you may be going, it allows you to get more steps in, which in turn helps you get some exercise without having to really try. Another quick exercise tip would be to walk in place as you watch television or listen to podcasts. Exercising does not have to be strenuous or overwhelming. One small step at a time.
Incorporating exercise and healthy eating into your routine is about small, daily choices. Research shows that once you start incorporating healthier foods into your daily diet, you will develop a preference for those foods over time. Making the healthy choice at first may be hard, but with practice it gets easier. Henry County Coordinated School Health hopes you have a happy and healthy holiday season. For questions or comments, contact your child’s school nurse or call 644-3916. Also, please like and follow Henry County Coordinated School Health on Facebook for more information on mental, physical and nutritional health.
KAYLA GLOVER is a registered nurse, the Henry County School System’s family and community coordinator, and nurse at Lakewood School. Her email address is gloverk@ henryk12.net.