Far removed from the days of food policing, modern nutritionists spend their days counseling clients toward lifestyle changes, creating balance, bettering health, eating for disease prevention or management, and healing fragile relationships with food.
So in the spirit of National Nutrition Month, we asked nutritionists to share the one health habit they can’t live without.
Listen to your body
As intuitive eating continues to gain momentum, we’re bringing the focus back to our bodies. “I’m big on listening to what my body needs at that particular moment,” says dietitian Chloe Schweinshaut. “There are times that I feel like I need more meat and other times when I feel like eating more plants. Some days may be more carb heavy for me than others. Just like there isn’t one perfect diet for everyone, I recognize that there isn’t just one way of eating for me as my needs can be ever-changing.”
Give yourself grace
Beating ourselves up for cheating on our diet or getting off track is falling out of style. Alyssa Ashmore, a dietitian specializing in sports nutrition, says, “health means being able to be flexible with our goals and how they fit into our lives. I’ve learned to not beat myself up over the small things and to look forward to the next meal or the next day as another opportunity.”
Often believers in holistic balance, many nutritionists invest in their own health by paying it forward. “I volunteer at my local community garden. It is a great way to utilize my interests in food as a dietitian, connect with others in a social setting, and feel good about giving back,” says dietitian Heather Steele. Dietitian Stephanie Van’t Zelfden practices what she preaches by coaching her daughter to care for herself. She explains, “I show her how to listen to her body, nourish herself with delicious and healthful foods, and also enjoy treats without self-judgment. I’ve found that by focusing on how I can help her develop happy and healthy habits, it helps me be mindful of my own health in ways that I wasn’t before I had a child.”
“Thinking of all the things I am grateful for helps put things into perspective. It helps decrease negative thoughts and shift me into a more positive mindset,” says dietitian Jeanette Kimszal. “It also helps to keep anxiety and stress at bay. I try to think of three things I am grateful for each day.”
Keeping stress at bay can take some serious practice. Integrative and functional nutritionist Adrienne Raimo says, “I’ve found planning for the week (menu-planning and prep) to be instrumental for helping me eat well, move my body, engage in self-care, build in breaks, as well as keep up with business and personal life. The Sunday morning 30-minute organization habit is a low investment for a high reward in my total well-being.”
Manage mental health
It’s no secret that mental well-being is an integral part of our overall health. “Being a naturally anxious and over analyzing person, worry can literally spin my physical health into a negative spot,” says dietitian Chelsea Cross. “Daily morning reading that teaches me ways to help my thought processes can start my day on a positive and content place ready to tackle my tasks. You can eat the best diet, but if your mind is not well nourished and loved, your body will never be fully at peace.”
Commit to your workout
This might seem like an obvious step to living healthily, but it really is so important! “I schedule my workouts like an appointment and say no to anything that competed with the time commitment,” says dietitian Jen Barr.
“I always make time for a good, slow breakfast. I try and take 20 minutes to enjoy my breakfast and have a cup of coffee while I have quiet time without any phone or devices in front of me,” says dietitian and chef Whitney Reist. She says starting her day with a calm, collected breakfast sets her up to be positive and productive in what could otherwise be lazy morning hours.
Take intentional breaks
In school or work, constant tasks can quickly wear us down, but taking the time for regular breaks can bring a bit of calm back to the chaos. Dietitian and author Katey Davidson finds that active or social breaks can pay off over time. “When you return to your project or task, you come in with a clear mind and this can significantly decrease the time needed to finish it,” she says.
It turns out beauty sleep can be health sleep too. Samara Abbott, a licensed dietitian nutritionist, says that getting plenty of sleep allows her to, “have great energy to be able to concentrate at work and get in some body movement during the day. Bad sleep hygiene can also contribute to poor hormone balance, which in turn can confuse hunger and fullness signals.”
Through careful research, finding the right supplements can help us fill our complete nutrient needs. Dietitian Stephanie Wagner says, “I add a fiber supplement, like acacia fiber, to my morning coffee. The supplement helps bridge any gaps in my diet. Adequate fiber intake plays a key role in our health. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar, while insoluble fiber keeps you regular. Both help us feel full and satisfied.”
No matter how hard we work, there is no substitute for quality rest. “I meditate at least once a day,” says Maria Zamarripa, a registered dietitian. She adds, “the everyday stresses of life can build up and lead to unwanted symptoms like high blood pressure, weight gain, poor energy, and more. A short, daily meditation routine can help lower stress levels, reduce sugar cravings, and boost your energy.” Fellow dietitian Clara Nosek agrees, “I make sure to take time for myself every day, whether it’s a workout, a quiet cup of coffee, or a nap. I truly believe health starts from the inside out.”
An easy habit to incorporate into your health routine is adding turmeric to your diet. Here are eight easy ways to eat more turmeric.
xx, The FabFitFun Team