How to Better Your Nutrition for a Healthier You!

By Janet Knapp, MA, RD Home
VNA Health Group

How to Better Your Nutrition for a Healthier You!

Better Nutrition


Did you know that just a few small changes to your diet can impact your health in a big way? It’s no secret that good nutrition and exercise will help you keep a healthy weight, but did you also know that eating right can:


  • - Reduce high blood pressure
  • - Lower cholesterol
  • - Increase your energy
  • - Help you fight off and recover from illness or injury
  • - Reduce the risk of diseases including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers


That’s a large list of benefits that can be achieved by setting your goals and tweaking your diet ever so slightly. If you aren’t sure of your goals, that’s ok! Keep in mind that everyone is different. Below we’ll take a look at some body measurements to help you identify exactly what you want your goal to be!


Goal Setting



Body Mass Index (BMI for short) is one way to tell whether you are at a healthy weight, overweight or obese. To calculate BMI:


(Weight in pounds/height in inches2) X 703


…or if you’re not the math genius, there are plenty of websites or apps you can download on your smartphone that will help with your calculation. Once you get your BMI, consult the table below to see where you land:


BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 = Healthy
BMI of 25 to 29.9 = Overweight
BMI of 30 to 39.9 = Obese
BMI of 40 or greater = Morbidly Obese


A high waist circumference may indicate health risks even better than BMI. Measure your waist and if your circumference is >40” (male) or >35” (female), then you may be at an unhealthy weight. Use your BMI and waist circumference results to help identify your goal weight.


Make realistic weight-loss goals and aim for a slow, modest transformation of 1-2 pounds per week. Achieving your goal weight won’t happen overnight.  If this sounds discouraging, don’t worry. Knowing that you are on the right path to starting a healthier lifestyle can keep your eye on the target! Losing just 10% of excess body weight will have positive effects on your health. So start small, keep focus and enjoy your journey towards a healthier you!


What is “Good Nutrition”


Making healthy food choices by focusing on variety, amount and nutrition will greatly impact your overall health. Choose foods that don’t have added sugar or sodium and that are low in saturated fat. You can get the nutrition you need by choosing from the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. Opt for fresh food rather than foods that come packaged in a box or can. Canned produce and meats are often processed and contains added sodium and/or sugar.


Everything that you eat and drink will have an effect on your health, so start your healthy eating style by making small changes to your diet and build up. For more on the food groups and building a healthier eating style consult


Making Changes to your Diet



Most diets fail because people deprive themselves from eating, putting their body in a state of shock (something that won’t help you lose weight.) Practicing good nutrition doesn’t mean giving up everything forever. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said it best:


“All foods can fit within a healthy eating pattern if consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with physical activity. The Academy strives to communicate healthy eating messages that emphasize a balance of food and beverages within energy needs, rather than any one food or meal.”


Practicing good nutrition doesn’t mean giving up the foods you love forever and it certainly doesn’t mean starving yourself! In this day and age we often find ourselves “too busy” to eat healthy, so we opt for fast food, processed food and/or take out. Cutting out these foods is the first step in changing your diet. If you’re like many Americans who might not have the time to whip up a nice healthy dinner every night, then I’ve got a solution for you. Meal planning!


Create a Meal Plan


Now I know what you might be thinking, “I don’t have time to cook dinner, how am I going to have time to create a meal plan?” All it takes is a handful of recipes and blocking off a few hours one day each week. Stay on target by making food that you enjoy.


If you need help coming up with healthy recipes, try consulting, or just search the internet for healthy recipes. There are tons of free and easy recipes you can find online. Pick 3-5 recipes that you like and plan out when you’ll be eating them during the week. Keep in mind the serving size of each so you’ll know exactly how much leftovers you’ll have.


Shop and Prep


After you’ve identified the recipes you are going to go with for the week, create a shopping list and stick to it. Those Oreos and Honey BBQ chips may be tempting when you pass by them in the store, but stay focused. If you don’t buy them, you can’t eat them! When you start meal planning, not only will you save time, but money too.


After you’ve got all your ingredients, go home and get cooking! Individualize each meal into its own container or plastic bag for easy access (or to freeze for later if you’re cooking in bulk.) Doesn’t it feel good to know you have all your cooking done for the week?


Keep your Eye on the Prize


Now you have the tools and plan to start your journey towards your new lifestyle. Keep in mind that creating a new habit is always the hardest in the beginning stages, but with the right amount of determination and will power, you can achieve anything! Keep your weight goals in mind, write them down and post them on the fridge, wall, or somewhere in sight so you are constantly reminded. Now go out there and get started on the new healthier you!


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