It dawned on me recently that, as a dietetics student, I am in a uniquely beneficial position. Not only am I spending my days studying the science of nutrition, I am also surrounded by future Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and all their incredible wisdom. A little while back I was thinking about the one tip I would give to someone who wanted to improve their overall health. That is when I realized that my colleagues would be a wonderful resource. After years of studying nutrition, they are in the perfect position to answer that question. I am very grateful to them for taking time out of their crazy schedules to tell us their number 1 health tip.
Alyssa Bartholomew, Future Dietetic Intern, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
My one recommendation to live a healthier life would be to cook at home and eat out less frequently. According to the United States Healthful Food Council, the average adult eats out almost 6 times a week. Maybe that’s why the obesity rates have doubled in the last 35 years. Restaurant food contains a lot of hidden fat and sodium. Even “healthy” choices are often packed with extra fat, sodium, and calories. Also, the portion sizes are enormous, so you tend to eat more when you dine out. Another great reason to eat at home is family bonding. Research shows a correlation between children that eat family meals at home and a positive emotional well-being. Not only will eating at home improve your overall health, but it will also save you money. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef; just keep it simple. Cooking can be fun and easy with many benefits!
Cassie Berger, Future Dietetic Intern, California State University, Northridge
We all know that what we eat plays an important role in our overall health. But have you ever considered how important your digestion is? How quickly food may or may not move through you can affect nutrient absorption, your immune system, and your energy level. If you battle irregularity, yoga can be life changing! My hot tip for helping your digestion along, especially after some indulging or vacation eating, is vinyasa style yoga, but there are many different types to try. Yoga is comprised of deep breathing with stretching and twisting movements that reach the core of your body where digestion takes place. Imagine the twisting movements of yoga ringing out your intestines like a wet wash cloth. These movements can massage the soft tissues of your organs and help move waste along that might otherwise get stuck. So skip the Metamucil and beat the bloat with some twisty poses like half moon and revolved triangle.
Amanda Blake, Dietetic Intern, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Shore up support! Once you’ve found the motivation to make a healthy lifestyle change, find a partner, or better yet partners, to help you stay the course. Whether you’re incorporating weight training into your exercise routine or making an effort to increase your fiber intake or reduce your sodium, finding people you can truly count on to support you may seal the deal on achieving long term success. Chances are, you and your patrner(s) will inspire everyone around you and your changes will go viral.
Francesca Campisi, Future Dietetic Intern, California State University, Northridge
I believe the best way of achieving optimal health is to have a healthy dose of balance in life. For me I know that once a day I need some form of physical activity to help balance myself from being busy at work and sitting in class. It gives me an outlet where I can focus on something other than a deadline or an assignment due, or my upcoming Dietetic Internship. I try to make the physical activity different, and my newest obsession is swimming. I can wake up early, go for a swim, and once I am done I am ready to start my day. It is also a great way to see the beautiful sunrise each morning.
Andrea Cummings, Dietetic Candidate
Moderation is key with longevity at the forefront of importance. Leading a healthy lifestyle, including making nutrient-rich food choices and staying active, requires a mindset that it is a marathon and not a sprint. Whether your ultimate goal is to lose weight, gain more energy, or prevent future disease (or maybe a combination of things), it is important to remember that achieving these goals will not happen overnight and every change (no matter how big or small), matters. Additionally, indulging in moderation allows for the ability to sustain this healthy, nutritious lifestyle without feeling deprived – we all still need to live a little!
Nilo Hamed, Dietetic Candidate
If there’s one thing that I like to recommend to people, it is drinking more water! Water makes up more than 60% of our body’s composition and is vital for almost every metabolic process. While your body can use the water that’s found in coffees, teas, sodas, and juices, these all come with extra calories, as well as compounds that contribute to dehydration. Drinking enough water can lead to more energy, better skin, and even help your brain work better. Dehydration can also be mistaken as hunger, causing people to eat more than their body needs. Water is zero calories, readily available, and free!
Jocelyn Harrison, Dietetic Intern, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
If you’re looking for a superfood, look no further than dark leafy greens – spinach, kale, mustard greens, chard, collards, romaine and arugula to name a few. Their high antioxidant content makes them some of nature’s best cancer fighters. They’re packed with vitamins A, C, E and K and provide significant amounts of folate, a B vitamin that prevents certain birth defects and protects the heart. Greens are high in fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium but low in calories – so ounce for ounce they’re packed with nutrients. I make sure I get plenty of greens every day from salads to soups to stirfries to homemade chard pizza!
In addition to filling my plate with plants, I make sure I am healthy mentally and emotionally by having a constant support system and making time for things that make me happy. Sometimes we become so focussed on trying to eat healthily that we forget to take a breath and enjoy life. Yes, it is important to eat a nutritious diet, but it is also important to nurture your mental health as well. I am forever grateful for the video chats I have with my sister and her three crazy, yet adorably funny, kids and the group chats with my best #9Love ladies and #brethren boys. They always balance me with all things NOT a part of my #RD2be journey while listening to my stressful rants when needed. Other things that make me happy: dance parties and karaoke sessions! In my room, in the car, on my walk to school… who cares!? If hanging out with friends and eating French fries once in a while is something that makes you happy, go for it! #dowhatyoulove and #lovewhatyoudo
Monica Pang, Future Dietetic Intern, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
For me, it has been essential to take ownership of my health. Understanding that decisions I make about what I eat, how often I exercise, and how to handle daily stressors all directly contribute to my overall health status has been empowering. It motivates me to act on, not just think about, healthful behaviors…cooking at home more often than eating out, incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables into each day, maintaining strength and flexibility through various exercises several times per week, and using exercise and meditation to release stress. I think it is imperative to identify what motivates you and then find a way to use that to benefit your mind and body.