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Triple-check that nutrition label and break out your gym clothes because National Nutrition Month® is here. Each March, people across the country come together to commit to healthier living. Whether it be substituting a fast-food meal for a fresh, green salad or sneaking in an evening stroll, there are countless healthy habits you can develop to live a more nutritional lifestyle.

Eat slower and chew better

When you come in contact with a tasty dish, eating quickly may just come naturally, but it can have a negative impact on your health. Lowcountry food can be hard to resist, but slowing down during meals can have benefits you might not believe. 

When we eat, there are hormones that communicate things like how much we need to eat and how full we are. These hormones can take an average of 20 minutes before their signals reach our brain. By slowing down and chewing better, our brain has time to receive these signals, giving us a chance to avoid overeating and helping us more easily lose or manage weight.

Nothing beats a home-cooked meal

You can never go wrong with a home-cooked meal. Unlike eating out at a restaurant, cooking meals at home gives you full control over what goes into your body. You will know each and every ingredient added to your dish, which can do wonders for those keeping an eye on sodium intake and more.

Cooking at home is also more cost-effective than fast food or take-out options and can also provide you with leftovers, ensuring another healthy meal to come.

If you are interested in at-home cooking but unsure how ingredients may help your specific diet, you may be interested in learning about Fetter and Lowcountry Street Grocery’s Grocery Rx program, which teaches patients with hypertension, diabetes, and other health conditions how to select, shop and prepare healthy meals.

Never grocery shop without a list

It’s a generally accepted fact of life that things go smoother when you have a plan. The same can be said for grocery shopping. Shopping with a grocery list can help keep your body and wallet at their happiest.

If you’ve ever shopped without a grocery list, you have likely found your cart filled with two things: 1. items you didn’t intend to buy and 2. unhealthy treats. Creating a list before you leave for the store can help you avoid both of these problems. 

Planning meals can help cut back on impulse buys and allow you to stay focused on finding healthier items. 

Tips for healthier shopping:

  • Avoid increased salt intake by choosing products that say “low sodium.” Do so by avoiding processed or prepackaged foods like frozen pizza and some deli meats.
  • Choose whole-grain bread over traditional white bread. Whole grains can help reduce the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They’re also an excellent source of fiber and B vitamins.
  • Avoid foods high in trans fats. A high intake of foods with trans fats can increase the risk of heart disease. Instead, choose healthy fat foods like olive oil, nuts, avocados and more.

Add more protein to your diet

Protein is considered by many to be the most filling of all the macronutrients due to its high ability to affect your hunger hormones. Studies have shown that proteins may be more effective in doing so than high-carb meals for people living with obesity. Because of its filling property, protein can help you feel fueled for longer, which can help curve cravings and limit snacking sessions.

A protein-rich diet can also help maintain muscle mass for the young and help reduce muscle loss, which is a common effect of aging.

Excellent sources of protein include:

  • Eggs
  • Almonds
  • Yogurt
  • Chicken Breast
  • Lean Beef

Tips for forming (and keeping) a healthy habit

Developing a healthy habit can be easy, but maintaining it can be tricky. Try following these tips when forming your healthy nutrition practices to help you stay on track!

  • Identify your bad habits. In order to create change, you need to understand what needs changing. Take a moment to determine what patterns may be unhealthy and develop a plan to improve them.
  • Build a support system. It is easier to get stuck in our patterns. Having friends and family to support you in adopting new habits can help to keep you accountable. Have a loved one tag along for your grocery trips or join you in cooking a healthy meal once or twice a week.
  • Track your progress. Seeing results is a great motivator when trying to change your lifestyle. Keep a log of weight loss that’s stemmed from healthy meals. Create a recipe book of all the dishes you’ve cooked on your new diet. Witnessing the impact of your new way of life can be just what you need to maintain it.

If you’re looking to make the switch to a healthier lifestyle, Fetter Health Care Network is here to help! Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our Lowcountry facilities, or visit our website to learn more about our available services.