Sara Dow is a ACE Certified Weight Management and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. She is also a ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Small Group Trainer at the Y. Twice a month, her blog posts will feature nutrition education, a healthy recipe she has tried and loves, and tips to help you achieve your health goals, as well as answers centered around a nutrition question from a Y member.
March is National Nutrition Month in the United States, a time to focus on the importance of healthy eating habits and the impact they have on our overall health and well-being. Eating a nutritious diet can help us achieve and maintain a healthy weight, prevent chronic diseases, and boost our energy levels. But did you know that nutrition can also play a crucial role in improving our quality of life?
A healthy diet can help us feel better physically and mentally. When we eat well, our bodies have the fuel they need to function properly. This means we have more energy to get through our day and can perform better in both physical and mental tasks. Additionally, a balanced diet can help improve our sleep patterns, leading to better rest and overall mood.
In addition to the physical benefits, proper nutrition can also help improve our mental health. Certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, have been linked to improved cognitive function and mood. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can also help reduce inflammation in the body, which has been linked to depression and other mental health issues.
Making small changes to your diet can have a big impact on your overall quality of life. Start by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your meals, opting for whole grains over refined grains, and choosing lean proteins such as fish, chicken, and beans. Snack on nuts and seeds instead of processed snacks, and drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
It’s important to note that healthy eating is not about strict diets or deprivation. It’s about finding a balance that works for you and making sustainable changes to your eating habits over time. Start by setting small goals for yourself, such as eating a vegetable with every meal or swapping out sugary drinks for water and tea. Celebrate your successes along the way and don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up.
National Nutrition Month is a great time to start focusing on your eating habits and how they impact your quality of life. Make a commitment to yourself to prioritize nutrition and take small steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Your body and mind will thank you!
A Healthy Recipe…
Chickpea and Cannellini Soup by Sara Dow (gluten and dairy free)
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup celery stalks, chopped
- 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (32 oz) box of vegetable broth
- 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
- 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans (or other white bean), rinsed and drained
- 3 cups baby spinach
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (omit for dairy-free)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, corn, and salt and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add broth, chickpeas, and cannellini beans. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low, and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Add the spinach. Ladle into soup bowls and top with grated Parmesan (if using). Add salt and pepper to taste. Pair with whole grain bread and fruit for a well-balanced meal.
Yield: 6 – 1 cup servings. Store leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Nutrition: Broth is nourishing, hydrating, and soothing. Garlic and onions have antibacterial properties to help fight germs. Spinach and carrots are loaded with vitamin C. Chickpeas and cannellini beans are high in protein to support immune function and muscle tissues repair and fiber to promote gut health.
Check out this Resource…
The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) is committed to helping people enjoy happier, healthier lives by eating more fruits and vegetables every day. Check out their website for free resources including fruit and vegetable nutrition, storage and handling guides, inspiration and recipes, and insights and tips from experts.
To read more posts like this one, be sure to visit our main blog page at www.glcymca.org/blog.
About Sara Dow
Hi, I’m Sara and I am passionate about helping people improve their quality of life through the knowledge and practice of good nutrition.
In 2018, I was inspired by the YMCA community to go back to school and pursue my dream of becoming a registered dietitian. I am now in my senior year, double majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics at Kansas State University. I am excited to share with you what I am learning.