March is Nutrition Month! What better time than now to examine the foods you are putting into your body to determine the following: Are they helping you #BeBetter, or are they hindering you from feeling great and reaching your goals?
If you’re ready to re-evaluate your eating habits, keep reading! We’re sharing some healthy secrets so that you can start March off right.
Foods that fuel
It’s not uncommon to feel like a zombie in the morning. And we’ve all experienced the afternoon slump. But instead of pouring yet another cup of coffee, why not make meal and snack choices that provide you with the energy you need to get you through the day?
The right foods help us feel more energized in the morning, and make sure we perform better throughout the work day—by boosting concentration and focus, minimizing brain fog, and improving memory.
So swap out those sugary cereals or syrupy sweet jams for a breakfast that is low in refined sugars and high in protein. No time to get fancy in the mornings? No problem! Overnight Oats are chock full of protein, fibre and healthy fats, and they just might just be the quickest breakfast option out there (since you prepare it the night before). While you’re at it, make sure to pack some protein-rich snacks (e.g., nuts, seeds, veggies & hummus) in your lunch bag, so you aren’t reaching for a sweet treat in the afternoon.
Fuel your body by eating the right foods in the morning:
- This may seem like a no-brainer, but keep hydrated (and boost productivity!) by drinking plenty of water first thing in the morning and throughout the remainder of your day. Add lemon or go sparkling if the regular thing is a little too boring for your tastes.
- Want your brain to function at its “optimal level”? Eat your protein! Try adding avocado, eggs, nuts or seeds into your breakfast routine. They’re all high in protein—your brain (and your boss) will thank you.
- A bowl of oatmeal is packed with fibre and protein, and is a great way to get a much-needed energy boost before you head to the office. Try the less processed steel cut oats for added health benefits.
Foods that may prevent disease
While you may be healthy right now, it doesn’t hurt to plan for the future. Current research tells us that something as simple as eating the right food can actually help prevent disease.
If you want to proactively prevent disease, like cancer or heart disease, there’s no time like the present to make healthy changes to your diet. Two leading contributors of disease are processed foods and fast foods. So while it may be convenient to eat pre-made meals, you aren’t doing your future self any favours.
Instead, try to find other ways to save time while eating foods you’ve cooked from scratch. You may want to start doubling your recipes at dinnertime, so that you have enough leftovers to bring for lunch the next day. And if you must buy packaged foods from time to time, make it a rule to avoid products with long ingredient lists you can’t pronounce.
Help prevent illness or disease by incorporating these foods into your menu:
- Want to age gracefully? Milk, cheese, tofu, dark leafy greens and legumes are just a few of the foods that are high in calcium (which can help prevent mobility issues and discomfort associated with bone disease).
- One third of cancers are directly related to what you eat. Fight back by including regular servings of cancer-fighting foods like berries, broccoli, garlic and green tea in your diet.
- Some kimchi a day keeps the doctor away. Yup, we’re talking colds. Stay sniffle-free by eating more of these immune boosters during cold & flu season: dark leafy greens, garlic, ginger, kimchi, turmeric.
- Keep your heart healthy to fight off the “silent killer” by incorporating a selection of these delicious foods into your diet: berries, fatty fish, whole grains, sweet potatoes, beans, legumes and nuts.
→Want to make it really simple? Committing to 5 or more servings of fruits & veggies each day is one of the simplest ways to stay healthy and help prevent disease.
Foods that heal
Ah, sick days. They happen to the best of us. Whether you’re dealing with a cold or a headache that just won’t go away, some days are just better spent in bed. The good news is that you don’t need to take that nasty cold medicine or pop a bunch of painkillers to get you through. There are a multitude of foods that can help you feel better… and they taste good too!
Feel better with these foods:
- When it comes to a headache, we’re often quick to grab painkillers. But they don’t always work, and they can be expensive for those of us who suffer from frequent headaches. Next time, why not try watermelon (to hydrate), almonds (to relax your blood vessels), or spicy foods (to help shorten the lifespan of your headache)?
- Suffer from joint pain? Nuts, berries, orange veggies or dark leafy greens are all high in antioxidants. Why does that matter? Antioxidants help decrease inflammation around the joints, minimizing the associated pain.
- While there are a multitude of “cures” for a hangover, let’s keep things simple, shall we? Boil some water and pour yourself a cup of mint tea (to hydrate and decrease nausea). And while you’re at it, grab a banana—ranked number 1 hangover cure due to its high amounts of potassium (which you’re low in after a night of drinking a diuretic) and B6 (a true hangover-fighter).
Food for mood
What about those days when you’re feeling down in the dumps? You guessed it—there are also foods that can help brighten your mood on even the darkest of days. The problem is that many of us turn to junk food when we’re having a bad day. Whether we eat an entire bag of chips when we’re feeling stressed, or pull out a tub of ice cream every time a day goes sour, we’re actually doing the exact opposite that we hope to achieve.
Sure, our brains enjoy a quick burst of “feel good” chemicals after a bite of chocolate, but the problem is that the good feelings are only temporary. All those sweet treats? They create havoc on our systems, by making our blood sugar levels spike and then crash, causing our bodies to release cortisol (a stress hormone).
Here’s a simple solution: Have an emergency stash of superfoods hidden away—like nuts or Goji berries—so that the next time you’re feeling anything but (super, that is), you’ll have the perfect antidote to your blahs.
Here are some foods that will lift you up when you’re feeling down:
- Chocolate lovers rejoice: It’s not all bad! One study showed that eating dark chocolate every day for 2 weeks reduced stress hormones.
- Add a bit of saffron to your dish and enjoy the benefits of Prozac! (Don’t believe it? See #5.)
- Considering Omega-3 is a nutrient that “alters brain chemicals linked with mood,” why not make yourself a feast of fatty fish the next time you’re feeling off?
If you aren’t convinced that food has the power to fuel, prevent and heal, take a look at what the Dietitians of Canada have to say about it. Are you ready to unlock the potential of food this March? At League, we certainly are!