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Nutrition, exercise is key to healthy lifestyle

March is National Nutrition Month. The theme for this year is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.”

Just as it sounds, everyone is encouraged to adopt eating plans that include fewer daily calories and making informed food choices. Additionally, include physical activity plans that are focused on getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Put these two goals together and you’ll be working to reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.

As we watch our family, friends and even ourselves get older, it becomes very clear that choices we make today can have a significant impact on our future. Making deliberate choices to stay healthy will reap benefits for years to come. Keep reading for some suggestions to get you started on your healthier path.

Eat a good breakfast every day. You wouldn’t start a long trip without fueling your car; why do that to your body? Starting your day with whole grains, lean protein, fruit, dairy and even vegetables will get your day started in the best way. Not a breakfast food fan? Try a sandwich or leftovers instead. Your body will thank you by having adequate energy to get you through the morning.

Be aware of portion sizes. Most people I work with eat fairly well-rounded diets, but their portions are just too big. Even when you choose healthy foods, if they’re more calories than you need, you body will just store the excess. Measuring cups and a food scale are great tools to help bring your portions into proper perspective. Food labels will help you determine what portion is right for you.

Fit in healthy snacks between meals. If you have to go more than 4 hours between your meals, opting for a good snack will help keep your energy level up and prevent overeating at your next meal. Combine a good protein food such as nuts or low fat dairy with a whole grain or fruit for an excellent combination to sustain you until your next meal.

Support you eating habit with activity. The benefit of exercise is the gift that keeps on giving. In addition to burning extra calories and helping control weight, exercise is credited with decreasing stress levels and lowering blood pressure. Choose something you enjoy that’s easy for you. Recommendations for adults are to exercise two hours and 30 minutes per week; children and teens should get 60 minutes or more physical activity per day. Walking, dancing, or even playing a game of basketball are easy and fun ways to get in exercise.

Need some help putting things into focus? Consider consulting with a Registered Dietitian. We can help you personalize your goals to your lifestyle and nutritional concerns with advice tailored just for you. Your future self will thank you!

Mary is a clinical dietitian at Banner Churchill Community Hospital and consultant for Pershing General Hospital. Your nutrition questions are welcome — send questions to Mary C. Koch, R.D. in care of this newspaper.