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A hand holding a red apple in kitchen.

10 Ways to Boost Your Nutrition Now

Too often people confuse good nutrition with sacrifice. You can’t eat this. You can’t eat that.

In truth, good nutrition is about consistency. When you develop healthy eating patterns, you can find nutritious foods that satisfy your cravings, whether savory, sweet, or salty.

March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to make little changes that can have a big impact. Here are 10 ways that you can boost your nutrition and get on a path to a healthier you.

1. Maintain Balance

Balancing your diet is the first step to better nutrition. MyPlate.gov is a great resource for helping you get the recommended servings of the five food groups — fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.

2. Lower the Fat

This means reducing your intake of red meat, whole milk, whole-fat cheese, and ice cream. There are some delicious low-fat alternatives. Try to go for unsaturated fats in place of the saturated fats. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you in case you’re having trouble telling the difference. 

Person making a kale smoothie in kitchen.

3. Consume Calcium and Vitamin D

These are important for strong, healthy bones. Milk is a great source of calcium. For vitamin D, choose spinach, collard greens, bok choy, and mushrooms. Follow these links for other sources of calcium and vitamin D

4. Hydrate

Instead of grabbing a sugary soda or juice, you should drink some water. Water helps prevent infections, regulate body temperature, and keeps organs healthy. It also makes you feel fuller, there’s no added sugar, and you can flavor it with fruit.

Closeup of cooked chicken breast and healthy salad.

5. Keep the Protein Lean

Protein is the one macronutrient that can help you to maintain a healthy weight. It keeps you full, so you don’t have to eat as often. You burn more calories when you eat lean protein than other foods. Protein is also key for building muscles, which helps you burn fat when at rest.

6. Get More Potassium

Potassium helps keep the nerves, muscles, heart, and kidneys working right. Not getting enough increases the risk of high blood pressure and kidney stones. Bananas are a great source for potassium. So is prune or pomegranate juice. You can find more food ideas here.

7. Cut Added Sugars

Food companies are sneaky. They hide sugar in all kinds of places, so it helps to know where to look. There are the usual suspects like syrups, desserts, and sugary drinks. However, sugar is also abundant in yogurt, condiments, and foods you may think are “harmless.” Make sure to check the labels.

Healthy vegetable grain bowl on kitchen table.

8. Color It Up

If you’re only eating shades of brown, it’s time to add some flair to your plate. Delicious and healthy foods come in yellow, orange, red, green, blue, and purple. Mix it up and expand your plate’s palette.

9. Boost Your Fiber

Fiber can help you feel full and keep you from snacking between meals. Raw vegetables like celery or carrots make tasty snacks and are full of fiber. Have a piece of fruit like an apple, pear, or melon slice with your meal to improve your fiber intake. The CDC has a list of good sources of fiber.

10. Reduce Your Salt Intake

We need salt. We just don’t need a lot. Its use as a preservative means it’s in all kinds of processed and packaged foods. Avoid those and you can avoid a lot of extra salt. Too much will boost your blood pressure and put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Season your food with spices and herbs instead.

We Can Help with Your Nutrition

We have registered dieticians available to help your entire family get on a path to better eating. It may be medically necessary because of diabetes or a heart condition. Or maybe you’re just trying to be proactive with your health. Whatever the reason, AltaMed can help. Call us at (888) 499-9303.

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See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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Two women drinking smoothies outside.

Healthy Alternatives to Common Snacks

When things get busy, it’s all too easy to grab a comforting snack like chips or candy. In fact, our bodies literally crave these types of treats. Replacing them with healthier alternatives is a great way to keep your well-being on track. So, the next time hunger strikes, consider these simple snacks that are easy to make, taste great, and will leave you energized for the rest of the day. 

Fresh Fruits and Veggies — Nature provides some of the best snacks! Keep a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables like apple slices, carrot sticks, or cucumber rounds on hand for easy, crunchy, and nutritious munching.

Nut Butter and Banana — Spread some peanut or almond butter on banana slices for a creamy and protein-packed treat.

Cheese and Whole Grain Crackers — Cheese is a good source of calcium, and when paired with whole-grain crackers, it becomes a balanced snack for all times of day.

Yogurt with berries.

Yogurt with Berries — Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and some fresh berries is a satisfying snack that's also rich in protein and antioxidants.

Trail Mix — Create your own trail mix with a blend of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a few chocolate chips for a sweet touch. It's a great way to get energy and nutrients.

Homemade Smoothies — Blend up a nutritious and delicious smoothie with ingredients like spinach, banana, yogurt, and a splash of fruit juice.

Hummus and Fresh Veggies — Hummus, made from garbanzo beans, is a fantastic dip for veggies like bell peppers, celery, and cherry tomatoes.

Bowl of popcorn.

Popcorn — Skip the butter and go for air-popped popcorn. It's a whole grain that's low in calories and can be seasoned with a variety of tasty flavors.

Whole-Grain Muffins — Bake some whole-grain muffins with added fruits or vegetables for a tasty and portable snack option.

Frozen Fruit Bars — Opt for frozen fruit bars made with real fruit juice and minimal added sugar as a refreshing treat.

Snacking Toward Success

By choosing healthier snack alternatives, you’ll get the necessary nutrients to grow healthy. At AltaMed, we're dedicated to improving the well-being of our communities, one good habit at a time. We understand that maintaining a balanced diet can be a challenge, especially with busy schedules. Our dietician counseling services can help tailor meal plans that meet your family’s needs. 

Learn how to get started with AltaMed or call us at (888) 499-9303.

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Eating

The Pros and Cons of a Vegan Diet

Choosing a diet is a personal decision that involves factors such as health, ethics, and lifestyle. One popular choice is a vegan diet, which excludes all animal products. If you're thinking about going vegan, it's important to weigh the pros and cons to determine if it aligns with your health and wellness goals. Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of a vegan lifestyle.

Pros of a Vegan Diet

  1. Better Heart Health — Vegans often have lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart diseases. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is beneficial for cardiovascular health.
  2. Weight Management — A vegan diet can aid in weight loss or help maintain a healthy weight due to its focus on low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods. Plant-based meals are often naturally lower in calories and saturated fats.
  3. Lower Cancer Risk — Research suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of certain types of cancers. Vegans consume a variety of plant foods that contain protective antioxidants and phytonutrients.
  4. Improved Digestive Health — A vegan diet is typically rich in fiber, promoting healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. High-fiber diets are associated with a reduced risk of constipation and colon-related issues.
  5. Environmental Impact — Veganism is touted for its positive impact on the environment. Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. By not consuming animal products, you can reduce your carbon footprint.

Cons of a Vegan Diet

  1. Potential Nutrient Deficiencies — A vegan diet may lack certain essential nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. It's crucial to carefully plan your diet to ensure you get all necessary nutrients.
  2. Challenges in Eating Out — Finding suitable vegan options can be difficult, especially in non-vegan-friendly areas. Dining out may require extra effort and research to identify vegan-friendly restaurants and menu items.
  3. Social Limitations — Being vegan might pose social challenges during gatherings or events, as not everyone may understand or accommodate dietary preferences. These situations can sometimes be uncomfortable.
  4. Initial Learning Curve — Transitioning to a vegan diet may require learning new recipes, understanding ingredient alternatives, and familiarizing yourself with plant-based nutrition. This learning curve may feel overwhelming initially.
  5. Potential Expense — While a plant-based diet can be affordable, specialty vegan products and substitutes can be more expensive than their non-vegan counterparts. Organic or specialty items may strain your budget.

Is a Vegan Diet Right for You?

Ultimately, whether a vegan diet is suitable for you depends on your personal beliefs, health considerations, and willingness to commit to a plant-based lifestyle. Consult with a registered dietitian who can guide you in making informed dietary choices to ensure you’re consuming a nutritionally balanced vegan diet.

Remember, any diet should prioritize balanced nutrients, and a vegan diet can be a wholesome choice if planned thoughtfully to meet your body’s needs. Whether vegan or not, the key is to opt for a diet that aligns with your overall well-being.

Dietician Consultations Available

No matter your age, what you eat has a huge effect on your overall health. Healthy eating isn’t hard — especially when you have someone to empower you to make good decisions and teach you how healthy food can be delicious. Our registered dieticians provide individually tailored nutrition plans to members of every age.

Patients with the following are encouraged to see a dietician: diabetes, heart-related conditions, those considering bariatric surgery, pregnancy, gastrointestinal-related conditions, and patients with any other nutrition-related condition.

Dietician consultations are available to all AltaMed patients at no cost. Ask your doctor for a referral or call (888) 499-9303 to enroll.

10 Ways to Boost Your Nutrition Now