This March, we are celebrating National Nutrition Month. Let’s talk about some interesting statistics really quick. Did you know that 7 out of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States are related to chronic diseases, and that the majority of causes are heavily influenced by lifestyle factors? The CDC lists diet, physical activity, tobacco, and alcohol use as the four main modifiable risk factors for chronic disease. The key word here is MODIFIABLE. That means YOU can do something about it!
This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month is all about personalizing your plate! Yes, we know that when it comes to nutrition, it is not one-size-fits all. We are all different. We have different backgrounds, different genetics and risk factors, different bodies, and different goals. So, let’s work with our bodies to develop a plan that’s right for us!
Where should we start on this journey to find our n=1 (individualized) nutrition plan? Let’s start with the basics. In general, we know that focusing on the quality of our food has important implications for our health. Do you typically eat foods that are high in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber (think fruits, veggies, legumes)? Or do you find yourself eating foods low in nutrients but high in energy or calories (think empty calories like sugar-sweetened beverages, chips, and candy). Now, this isn’t to say that some of these high-calorie, low-nutrient foods can’t or shouldn’t be apart of your meal plan. However, what are you eating the majority of the time? Do you pay attention to how these foods make you feel, both physical and emotionally or mentally?
Usually, the first place to start when considering any form of change is to build awareness. Take an honest look at what you eat day-to-day. Consider keeping a food log for a period of time to help you see the types of foods you are consuming on a regular basis as well as the amounts. You don’t necessarily have to be focused on your calories or macros, but do pay attention to how you feel as you move about your day. Are you tired or energetic? When are you hungry? What thoughts do you have around food? Beginning to create a habit of mindful awareness can be transformative to your health! So start here.
Listen to your body. We receive subtle feedback from our bodies that so often gets crowded out by the many distractions in front of us. So, take some time to listen. Give yourself grace. And remember that nutrition is not one-size-fits all.