National Nutrition Month: Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle

March is such a great month, not only because Spring is starting to emerge, and there is a glimpse of hope that the snow is going to melt once and for all, but also March is National Nutrition Month (although in my mind, every month is National Nutrition Month). Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes, informs, and emphasizes nutrition. Each year they have a different theme, this year’s NNM theme is “Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle.” Last year, their theme was “The Taste of Eating Right” and I actually blogged about that when I was first getting my blog started. Check that post out here: http://cookinglittle.blogspot.com/2014/03/enjoy-taste-of-eating-right-national.html !
So what does “Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle” mean to me? I definitely can relate to this theme, especially since going vegan last Spring. I’ve wanted to talk about the difference I’ve found between “dieting” and “living” for quite a while, so the fact that this is the theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month worked out perfectly!
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My Thoughts: Low-Calorie Diets

In high school, when I first began to discover my passion for health and nutrition, I held onto the “calories in, calories out” motto that we hear from lots of health professionals. When someone is trying to lose weight, everyone tells them to monitor calories, reduce calories, count calories, it’s all about calories, calories, calories. It becomes something that can easily be obsessed over, and cause people to lose sight of true nutrition. This is exactly what happened to me when I started to become interested in nutrition and healthy eating in general. I used to count my calories like many people do, using an app on my phone. I didn’t really think much about nutrients, vitamins, or even macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat). All I cared about was the calories I consumed each day. This can become really dangerous if you’re trying to eat a well-balanced diet, or even a healthier diet in general. Many people (including my former self) think that eating fewer calories, regardless of the type of food is the way to weight loss, weight maintenance and a general healthier body. Eating fewer calories may cause initial weight loss, but definitely not a good long term approach to weight loss/maintenance. If calories are the main priority, actual nutrition can be forgotten about and “healthy eating” can just turn into calorie restriction.

When you restrict calories, specifically below 1200 calories/day, your body goes into starvation mode. If your body goes into starvation mode, it can hold onto everything you eat and lead to weight gain. Also, this type of “dieting” can really mess up your metabolism. Any diet that is less than 1600 calories is just a bad idea in my opinion. Calorie restriction can lead to binge eating (consuming a lot of food at one time) and just an unhappy mood. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that and it’s not fun at all. I see so many “diets” that promote eating less than 1500 calories per day, and it makes me so sad to see people try them and ultimately fail because of the calorie/nutrient deprivation. These types of “diets” cause the yo-yo effect that many people experience when trying to get healthy and eat better.

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My Experience Living Off Food Stamps

I am currently taking a Community Nutrition class for my undergraduate major. In this class we learn about the nutrition needs in a community. We have recently been covering food insecurity, as well as the government, state, and local programs/agencies that help with the huge population of people that are food insecure. As part of our course, we are required to participate in the SNAP Challenge. The SNAP challenge is essentially living off of food stamps. We are only required to participate in the challenge for three days. In these three days, we were only allowed to eat off of $4.10/day totaling $12.30 for the entire three days. We were not allowed to eat any food that we already had, or accept food from anyone.

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10 Foods to ADD to Your Grocery List in 2015

With the new year finally here, lots of people are beginning diets and making decisions to remove things from their diets. Taking foods away can be beneficial to your health, but it can also be disappointing and feel a lot more like a loss/failure if those foods make it back onto your plate. Removing things can feel negative and overwhelming. So instead, try adding things to your diet/life and slowly you will find that you don’t crave the “bad” foods as much! I love the concept of adding foods, rather than removing because adding is much more positive and you’ll be getting those nutrients from the good foods you add regardless of the other foods you’re eating. So here are 10 foods I think you should add to your grocery list and incorporate into your menus in the new year.

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How to Make Your Thanksgiving a Little Healthier

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving? It’s the time of year that we get to celebrate food, as well as spend time with friends and family being thankful for all the many gifts that we have been given. To many people, Thanksgiving can also be a downward spiral into unhealthy eating that will carry on throughout the holiday season. I thought I would share some of my healthy Thanksgiving tips to hopefully make your Thanksgiving a time to celebrate and respect the food that you put in your body.

Remember, food doesn’t define the holiday

After becoming vegetarian, and committing myself to eating a healthy/clean diet, it was difficult for me to let go of the typical “food traditions” and the general thought that certain foods define a holiday or special occasion/event. Even though Thanksgiving has a lot to do with food, it also has a lot to do with being with family and being thankful. Don’t go into Thanksgiving with the mindset that food is the only thing that matters, and that if you don’t eat this, or that it won’t be Thanksgiving.

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