In this first month of the year, our thoughts are often on improving ourselves and our health. These improvements tend to focus on the “bad” habits or foods that need to be eliminated. There are certainly things in our lives and diets that our bodies would be better off without, but this approach can promote a pattern of negative thinking that is a bad habit itself. So this year why not make a more positive resolution to improve your health by adding more of the super-good-for-you things that you might be missing?
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Seeds – Sunflower, pumpkin and hemp seeds can be sprinkled on salads, used to top your morning oatmeal or yogurt, or baked into breads for a boost of healthy fats, vitamins and essential micronutrients.
- Beans/Legumes – Excellent sources of plant-based protein, substituting a meat-based meal for a bean-based stew or curry a couple times of week will boost your fiber intake while providing you with B vitamins and the essential minerals magnesium and potassium.
- Leafy Greens – My personal favorite, greens are loaded with vitamins A, C, K, calcium, potassium and fiber and they are easy to find locally in the winter months. Try making a kale salad (great for packing for lunch) or add tougher greens, like collards, to soups and stews. You can even add a handful of greens to your morning smoothie.
- Berries – Antioxidant-rich blueberries, strawberries, cranberries and kiwis can be eaten on their own or added to a bowl of yogurt sweetened with honey for a nourishing snack.
- Dark Chocolate – Yes, chocolate. Dark chocolate is packed with a surprising number of nutrients, including antioxidants. Choose a quality bar with less sugar (at least 70% cacao content, but 85-90% is even better) and treat yourself to a piece (up to 1.5 ounces daily) when a sugar-craving hits. You might be surprised how satisfying just a small square can be!
- Water – Staying hydrated is one of the most basic things your body needs to keep functioning properly, but it’s also one of easiest things to let fall from our priority list. Make a habit of carrying a reusable bottle of water with you and sipping all day long.
By Flannery Nielsen, Bastyr University Masters of Science in Nutrition candidate
Moore, M. Leafy Greens: Nutrition Rock Stars. Food & Nutrition. March/April 2014. http://www.foodandnutrition.org/March-April-2014/Leafy-Greens-Nutrition-Rock-Stars/.