By Riva Preil
Celebrate March, the National Nutrition Month, together with us at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy! In this day and age of Super Size Me and fast food, it’s more challenging than ever to maintain a healthy diet. In fact, bagel diameter sizes are approximately double what they were twenty years ago (six inches vs. three inches), and a medium sized bag of popcorn contains 11 cups of popcorn vs. a former 5 cups. Therefore, it is extremely important to be mindful of portion sizes. The National Institute of Health recommends cutting high calorie foods (such as chocolate and cheese) into smaller pieces, serving fruits and vegetables as snacks instead of junk food, and packing a healthy homemade lunch for you and your family instead of opting for convenient yet unhealthy fast food alternatives.
Hard pressed for healthy snack ideas? Allow me to enlighten you and share some of my favorites…from the dairy department, you can enjoy half a cup of fat free pudding, 6 oz. of fat free plain yogurt (ex. Chobani is an amazing option chock full of protein!), half a cup of low fat cottage cheese, or 1 oz. of low fat cheddar cheese. From the fruit and vegetable department, help yourself to 1 medium sized apple, 1 small banana, 1 cup of whole strawberries, half a cup of canned fruit cocktail (sorry, hold the syrup), 1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, 18 small celery sticks, 12 baby carrots, 1 cup of raw cauliflower, or 2 cups of raw mixed veggies with 2 tablespoons of fat free dressing. Hungry for a carb snack? 2 multigrain rice cakes, 4 while wheat crackers, half a whole wheat English muffin with sugar free jelly, 3 cups of air-popped popcorn (no butter), 2 graham crackers, or 8 baked tortilla chips with salsa are your best bet. If you need a quick protein fix, go for 10 almonds or 1 large hardboiled egg. Believe it or not, but these snacks or all 100 calories or less!
Finally, make wise decisions when cooking and shopping. Choose oils that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, such as canola oil, safflower oil, or sesame oil. Steer clear from palm oil, butter, and coconut oil! While creating your shopping list, plan ahead for healthy meals and select products accordingly. Try to refrain from shopping on an empty stomach- it’s much easier to grab that carton of ice cream or snatch those appetizing chips off the shelf when your hungry eyes (and stomach) are trying to derail you from your health mission. Good to luck to you on your road to healthy nutrition!