5 Easy Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Nutrition

By Jacquelyn Buffo, MS, LPC, CAADC

March 15, 2021

Natl Nutrition Month

For many of us, when we think of March, we think of melting snow, warmer temperatures, and the onset of spring. With its promise of longer days and more sunshine, March can bring a renewed sense of hope, improve our spirits, and give us something to look forward to. What you may not know is that March also marks National Nutrition Month, and it couldn’t come at a better time of year.

Nutrition by Definition

Nutrition is the process by which our bodies get the nutrients it needs to grow strong and healthy. Nutrition plays a critical role in our physical and mental wellness. From our productivity to our susceptibility to various diseases, nutrition positively or negatively impacts all areas of our lives. Our overall quality of life remains profoundly influenced by our nutrition.

Why Is Nutrition Important?

Proper nutrition remains significant not only for our physical health but for our mental health and cognition (our memory and ability to comprehend). Studies show that good nutrition can lead to the following outcomes:

  • Improve productivity in all areas of life
  • Improve our ability to learn new information and to perform cognitive tasks
  • Strengthen our immune system
  • Reduce the risk of developing diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • Improve health in infants, children, and mothers

Poor nutrition can lead to an abundance of detrimental physical and mental health outcomes. Poor nutrition can cause:

  • Certain cancers
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Increased stress and fatigue
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Reduction in productivity
  • Tooth decay
  • Type 2 diabetes

The role that nutrition plays in our quality of life and our overall life satisfaction is undeniable. However, improving your nutrition may be easier than you may think.

How to Improve Your Nutrition

Nutrition not only focuses on the foods and drinks we put into our bodies; it also assesses behaviors and other social factors that contribute to making healthy and unhealthy food and drink choices. Our behavior plays a significant role in our nutrition and can impact it positively or negatively. Improving your nutrition doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Small changes can have a profound impact.

Being mindful of your behavior and your dietary choices can improve your overall nutrition and quality of life. Let’s first start with diet choices. Experts suggest the following to improve nutrition through the food you eat:

  • Aim to consume around five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit in a day.
  • Drink more water and limit the number of soda and sugary drinks you consume.
  • Keep a variety of healthy foods available at home.
  • Limit your consumption of foods that are processed, high in fats, and high in sugar.

Behaviors that can help improve your nutrition include:

  • Cooking more meals at home instead of going out to eat or grabbing fast food
  • Eating your food slowly
  • Keeping healthy snack options available to you throughout your workday (in your purse, desk, or car)
  • Keeping unhealthy foods that are high in sugar and fat out of the home
  • Planning meals ahead of time

Conclusion

As with any lifestyle change, it remains critical to assess your current situation and then identify a realistic goal for yourself. It is crucial to acknowledge your current nutritional habits and behavior to select an appropriate goal modification. Your initial goal may be different than that of other people. Starting small is ideal, and adjusting your goals while meeting your objectives remains essential for growth and goal achievement.

Ask yourself, “What is one small thing I can start to do to improve my nutrition?” For some individuals, that may be reducing their soda intake from two cans a day to one. For other people, that may mean trying to eat at least one vegetable a day. There is no wrong place to begin when making changes that positively impact your health. Keep in mind that your starting point isn’t necessarily your end goal.

Be honest with yourself about your current eating habits and your overall nutrition. You can also reach out to your doctor or medical professional to obtain further support and resources. A simple blood test may help you determine the nutrients missing from your diet and change your nutritional habits. Change is possible, and it starts with the first step. Small changes can lead to spectacular outcomes and improve your quality of life and overall health.

With the ScriptSave Wellrx mobile app, you can also see your grocery's nutritional contents in seconds. Just open up the Food Index tool, scan your groceries, and check out the results. You can also input any dietary restrictions, allergens, and health conditions, so you can easily identify what food products may affect your health.

Jacquelyn Buffo is a licensed professional counselor with experience and expertise in substance abuse and mental health issues. She received her MS in mental health counseling from Capella University and is a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor through the state of Michigan. She is also in the process of receiving her certification in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Jacquelyn has experience working with clients suffering from addiction and mental health issues on an in-home, residential, and outpatient basis. Currently, she works with adolescents and adults with Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder through Henry Ford Health System.

Resources:

https://www.who.int/health-topics/nutrition

https://medlineplus.gov/definitions/nutritiondefinitions.html

https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/healthy+living/is+your+health+at+risk/the+risks+of+poor+nutrition#:~:text=In%20the%20short%20term%2C%20poor,high%20blood%20pressure

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losingweight/eatinghabits.html

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