Put Your Best Fork Forward


By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. March 3, 2017

Small changes over time help build new healthier habits.

March is National Nutrition Month and the perfect time to take stock of your eating habits and make a few improvements. This year's theme is "Put Your Best Fork Forward." The theme reminds us that we all have the tools to make healthier food choices.

Here are some common challenges and ways to put your best fork forward:

No time for breakfast

·       Beat the morning rush: Pack breakfast the night before. Try an apple, whole-grain crackers and peanut butter. Grab it and go to avoid loaded lattes and mid-morning mega muffins.

·       Bonus points: Remember the breakfast you made the night before? Eat it at home.

·       Double bonus point: Take an extra piece of fruit with you for mid-morning and avoid the donuts at the coffee machine.

Noon and starving

·       Order wisely when eating out: Order a small sandwich with lean protein and loaded with veggies. Have another piece of fruit and a small salad. Refresh yourself with sparkling calorie-free water.

·       Be strategic at lunch meetings: Pizza or giant sub sandwiches on the table? Have a small piece of pizza or no more than a 4-inch piece of sub. If salad is available, take a heaping helping of mostly veggies (2 cups or more), and remember that meat, cheese and croutons are accompaniments. Have the dressing on the side.

·       Bonus points: Eat the fruit you brought from home but didn't eat mid-morning.

Afternoon cravings

·       Snack smart: Check the vending area for 100-calorie packets of nuts or pretzels, or try air-popped popcorn. If you're lucky you may have access to fruit, veggies, small packs of real cheese and crackers, or low-calorie yogurt. Choose and eat one snack.

·       Bonus points: Bring snacks from home. Good choices include single packets of almonds, peanut butter or crackers, or individual pieces of dark chocolate. The key is controlling the serving size.

·       Extra bonus points: Make your own snack packs at home using plastic bags. Keep your snacks away from your desk so you have to walk to get them. Better yet, take a walk on your break.

Supper-time slip-ups

·       Head off the dinner dilemma: Instead of caving in and getting take-out or delivery, plan to eat a simple home-cooked meal twice a week. Write down what you're planning to eat and get groceries so you'll have them available. Cook once and plan to eat leftovers.

·       Cook once and eat twice: Bake a chicken with chunks of carrots, a quartered onion and a few small potatoes (look it up online). Serve one breast or one leg/thigh with the roasted vegetables and a side of cut-up fruit and a small wedge of cheese. The next night, use the leftover chicken to make sandwiches or wraps, chicken salad (lettuce or fruit with chicken strips), or tacos. Eating at home saves you from being tempted by restaurant bread baskets, fried appetizers, huge portions, sugary dessert, and wine or cocktails.

·       Bonus points: Cook once and eat twice can be repeated. Think of how much healthier you'll eat by having 4 or home-cooked meals a week. Hey, you can also take leftovers to work.


Remember, small healthy changes over time help build healthy habits.


Jim Bohs