It is time to celebrate a very important anniversary, and no, this one has nothing to do with dating or engagement or marriage. It’s about movement. Physical activity. Exercise. Nutrition. Health. Happy 5th Anniversary to the Let’s Move campaign! Let’s Move was started five years ago by First Lady Michelle Obama as an initiative to encourage good nutrition and physical activity, as well as combat childhood obesity. There has never been a First Lady in the White House who has been so committed to nutrition and we dietitians LOVE her for it. So what does our FLOTUS want as her anniversary gift? Nope, not paper, gold, or silver…she wants a high five! The “Gimme Five” challenge asks anyone – kids, parents, celebrities – to broadcast five healthy tips across social media. Naturally, I wanted in on the action. So here we go: the Pocket RD’s #GimmeFive!
- Make Simple Substitutions
Good nutrition is not about using words like “avoid”, “limit”, and “eliminate”. Those words just make everything sound so negative! Instead, focus on one simple verb that can change your whole outlook to dieting and nutrition: “substitute”. This is the simplest nutrition principle I can think of and ANYONE can follow it. Here’s how it works: take ONE food you eat during the day that isn’t the healthiest and substitute it for something better. My classic example: if you usually have chips with your sandwich at lunch, substitute an apple instead. If you really want to step up your substitution game, swap one less-than-healthy food at each MEAL for a better option. That’s the advanced version of this game, so be sure to stretch first.
- Suck Up Water Like a Camel
Drinking lots of water has always been a staple in my blog posts, so naturally it had to make it into my top five health tips. Full disclosure: I frequently get made fun of [by my fiancé] for having to pee so often. It is a common phenomenon for me to go the bathroom before a movie, we find our seats, and I end up having to pee again before the previews start. Well guess what. That is not only weird; it means I drink a lot of water! Make hydration your #trendy new look and make a water bottle your fave new accessory. By current recommendations, men should be drinking 3.7 liters of water a day and women should get 2.7 liters. Bottoms up!
- Eat Veggies with Lunch
This is by far the easiest way to increase your vegetable intake. If you are used to eating cereal for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch, then you’re saving all your veggie servings for dinner. And that’s a lot of veggie time to make up. Lunch veggies are easy: slap a piece of lettuce and tomato on your sandwich, have a cup of vegetable soup, or carry along a baggie of baby carrots. If you’re out to eat, substitute a side salad for those French fries. You’ll end up consuming fewer calories while also gaining more vitamins and minerals from those colorful companions of yours.
- Take Advantage of Healthy Shortcuts
It’s a really nice fantasy to eat 100% natural foods and cook everything from scratch 100% of the time…but that’s also 100% improbable. Not impossible…but extremely improbable. And unrealistic. And time-consuming. But it IS possible to get the best of both worlds: whole foods + time-saving convenience. You just have to look around your grocery store to find some hidden gems. I already wrote a whole post about this (click here), but some of my faves include Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice, Bumble Bee SuperFresh, and any type of frozen veggie. You save valuable time in the kitchen while not sacrificing nutrition and flavor.
- Move EVERY DAY
My fifth and final Gimme Five tip is not about exercise. You may be under the impression that you have to do some form of structured exercise every day to stay healthy. Guess what. You don’t. The key is to MOVE every day. P90X is not required. This may feel like an episode of Sesame Street because we’re about to have some fun with verbs: RUN, WALK, CLIMB, STEP, JUMP, SKIP, BEND, STAND, HOP, PLAY, LIFT, DASH. Pick a verb and do it. Just get your body MOVING. Don’t forget that everyday tasks count as physical activity: cleaning the house? Pushing the vacuum counts. Running errands? Walking from the far end of the parking lot counts. Shoveling snow? COUNTS COUNTS COUNTS. Especially in New England.
The most important thing to remember with all five of these healthy tips is to have FUN and make them a LIFESTYLE. Good nutrition should not be a chore. It should be about enjoying all the foods we have at our fingertips. By integrating these simple tips into your daily life, you’ll find you don’t need to follow a strict “diet” plan you found in a magazine. Good health = good life. Thanks for the challenge FLOTUS!