Fall into a Healthy Lifestyle!
Fall into healthy eating habits by including the many nutritional fruits and vegetables this season has to offer in your daily diet! Autumn produce is packed with an abundance of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, fiber and flavor. Fresh fall produce can be found at your local farmers market, roadside stands and grocery stores across the country. For a balanced diet, try adding these seasonal produce selections to your diet, in addition to whole grains, lean protein, low fat dairy and healthy fats. By developing healthy eating practices in the fall you can create good habits for the upcoming holiday season and winter months. Don’t forget to head outside to enjoy the fall weather! Go for a brisk walk, bike ride or some other outdoor activity.
Apples are traditional fall favorites. They are low in calories, high in fiber and contain powerful antioxidants. Apples are easy to eat as a snack or take on the go! Pair a delicious apple with peanut butter or cheese for protein, add in a salad or make homemade apple sauce. To cut out extra calories in your diet, instead of reaching for pie for dessert, try baked apples (or pears) sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with low fat yogurt.
Pears are another delicious fall fruit closely related to the apple. They are an excellent source of soluble fiber, the type which helps lower blood cholesterol, and also contain antioxidants and Vitamin C. The calories in one medium pair are estimated to be 60-100 per piece, and contain no fat, cholesterol or sodium. Pears can be eaten as is, added to salad or in oatmeal.
Pumpkins aren’t just for decorating! They are a great source of beta carotene (a powerful antioxidant), contain potassium and are low in calories, fat and sodium. Pumpkin can be used in a variety of soups, desserts and baked goods. And don’t forget the pumpkin seeds which are high in protein and loaded with magnesium and iron.
There are many varieties of winter squash, including butternut, spaghetti and acorn. Winter squash is in season from August until March. Usually, the darker the skin, the higher the beta carotene content is. Winter squash contains many nutrients including fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium and can be mashed, used in breads, desserts, soups, or eaten as a snack or side dish.
Sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene (good for the eyes!), Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. They can be used in placed of regular potatoes and eaten mashed, as baked fries, muffins or dessert.
A few other helpful nutrition tips for a healthier lifestyle this fall:
- Soups and stews can be excellent food choices as long as they are low in sodium (salt) and don’t contain creams or cheeses. Try to cut down on the meat and potatoes and include more vegetables. Also try to make your own low sodium broth.
- Turkey is a great source of protein, as long as it is lean, white meat.
- Remember portion sizes with holiday eating, including family meals and parties. Use measuring cups to help monitor portion sizes and keep a food diary to help you stay on track.
These small changes can really add up. Here are 10 suggestions of other simple modifications that you can make to your eating and exercise habits.
- Substitute heart healthy spreads instead of butter. This can have an impact on your cholesterol levels as well as your overall caloric intake.
- Use olive oil or canola oil instead of oils high in saturated fats. Buy a spray bottle and use this to coat pans so that you don’t overdo the oil.
- Try to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Start small with walking up one flight of stairs and work your way up.
- Substitute brown rice for white rice. You will be incorporating whole grains which are high in fiber and nutrients that are lost in the refining process when white rice is made. Also, foods high in fiber tend to sustain you longer so you’ll feel full for a longer period of time.
- Intentionally park further from the store when running errands to increase the number of steps you take each day
- Use nonfat milk in your coffee or latte instead of cream or whole milk and you’ll save around 100 calories.
- Team up. People are more likely to stick with an exercise routine when there is someone else to help hold them accountable. Pair up with co-workers and form a walking club during lunch. Meet a friend in the morning or evening to go for a walk. If you don’t have 30 minutes to walk, even walking 10 minutes, three times a day can have an impact.
- Drink a glass of water instead of juice with breakfast, or cut out a sugary soda drink during the day.
- Substitute brown or yellow mustard for mayonnaise on your sandwich to add flavor without the fat and cholesterol of mayonnaise.
- Eat dinner at a table. Those who eat on-the-go tend to eat foods with greater fat content. By taking time for yourself and reducing distractions, chances are you will be better able to pay attention to signals that you’re feeling full. You will also allow yourself to decompress from the day.
*Before you begin making any dietary or exercise changes, be sure to consult a physician.
The impact of these changes:
Making these daily lifestyle changes can have an impact in the long run. For example, let’s look at the impact cutting out 100 calories a day would have on your body over the span of a year.
100 (calories) x 365 (number of days in a year) = 36,500 calories. These are the number of calories that you will have not consumed or “saved” over one year!
What does this look like in terms of weight loss?
One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. Dividing 36,500 (the number of calories saved in one year) by 3,500 = 10.43 lbs! Making these small changes can really add up. Losing 10 pounds can have an impact on your blood pressure, Body Mass Index (BMI), cholesterol and other health levels.