March is nutrition month, and there are plenty of ways to start or stick to a healthy lifestyle. But a healthy diet does not mean a boring one. One of the best things you can do is diversify your options. According to registered dietitians and nutritionists, “adding interest when it comes to fruits and vegetables, rather than relying on a variety of desserts, will help us stick to keeping healthier items on our plate.” 

Using traditional recipes with new foods can be an easy way to try something different. Vegetables are also low in energy density, which can allow us to eat a larger volume of food for fewer total calories and still feel satisfied. 

Here are a few tips for sticking to a healthy diet:

Start with realistic expectations

Keep unhealthy foods out of the house

Don’t have an “all or nothing” approach; black and white thinking will taint your progress

Carry healthy snacks to avoid indulging in unhealthy habits; having high-protein snacks on hand can save you a lot of calories

Change diet and exercise at the same time to ensure that results reinforce each other

Have a game plan before eating out

Don’t let traveling derail you

Practice mindful eating: take time to enjoy your food and appreciate its ability to nourish your body

Start the day with a high-protein breakfast

Realize it takes time to change your habits

One of the hardest things to navigate with eating healthy is having access to healthy food places. Many minority groups have a higher risk of chronic diseases that can be avoided by learning to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. By practicing better eating habits, you can lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic diseases heavily represented in minority populations. Other benefits include fighting certain cancers, reducing the chances of asthma and glaucoma, allowing to nurture healthy babies, and achieving a healthy weight to avoid obesity. 

Many experts believe the DASH diet is the most beneficial for minorities. More than 37 percent of Black men and 44 percent of Black women have high blood pressure. The DASH diet is low in fats and cholesterol, rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish, beans, etc. This diet limits sugar intake and red meat intake. The best thing about the DASH diet is that it allows you to eat as regularly as possible.

For more information regarding heart health and maintaining a health diet, go to heart.org today.

Written by Kensley Villavasso, Public Health Sciences student at Xavier University

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