Summer goes by so quickly and here we are starting a new school year. I find that the rest of the world tends to match the school year schedule, with less work during summer, and then Fall gets busy very quickly.

As this busy season begins, be sure to have your eating habits in check. What have you been working on? Consuming less refined carbohydrates? Less alcohol? More fiber? More dairy?

The best diet is a healthy plan that you can maintain. Not only is the DASH Diet plan something supported by science to lower blood pressure and manage weight, but it’s pretty easy to adopt. A Mediterranean style diet is similar, and also pretty easy and delicious to adhere to. If you’d like some help getting on track, try my coaching services. In the meantime, start working on these goals this fall:

  • Plan a good breakfast, and add some protein to it. Have a batch of hard cooked eggs in the fridge so they are ready to eat. Try a half-cup of cottage cheese or ricotta with some fruit to go along with a slice of whole grain bread. Spread peanut butter onto an English muffin, and enjoy with a latte. Oatmeal makes a great breakfast too.
  • If you have children, make your own lunch when you make theirs. I found that I’d pack a great lunch for my kids, and then not spend any time planning mine (and it’d often end up less balanced).
  • Think more vegetables. When dining out, look for the veggie side dishes to go with your entree.
  • Choose lean meat cuts. Many people think it’s “bad” to include meats such as beef or pork in their diet, and then they feel guilty when they eat them. Don’t feel bad! Just choose lean cuts and smaller portions (5-7 ounces) and go ahead and plan meals with beef or pork through the week. Including some beef in your diet is also an easy way to ensure you’re getting the iron you need.
  • Get your omega-3 fatty acids. Adding salmon, trout, eggs, walnuts or flax seed to your diet ensures you get some of these beneficial fats in.

Salmon over sautéed spinach and a side of penne.

  • Add some dairy. Choose a variety of sources – low fat milk, yogurt, full fat cheeses. Be aware that full fat dairy products are going to be higher in calories, so plan accordingly. Dairy foods have been shown to lower blood pressure and are part of the DASH Diet plan.
  • Don’t categorize foods as good and bad. Pasta is not bad. White bread is not bad. Sugar is not bad. Fat is not bad. Foods just need to be balanced in your diet. Variety and portion control are important. Yes you should try to include some whole grains, but you can still make your child a peanut butter and jelly on white bread if that’s what they like. Just balance that by including some other foods with fiber in your diet.
  • Add some beans to your diet. Beans are so nutritious and a great way to add fiber to your. They are high in B vitamins and provide some protein. Add them to salads and soups, rice, burritos, or chilis.
  • Choose beverages wisely. It’s easy to go overboard with calories when you drink them. Sugary or alcoholic drinks may go down easy, but don’t make you full. Alcoholic drinks also tend to increase appetite. Stick to moderation with alcohol (1 drink a day for women, 2 for men).
  • Move more. Any extra movement you can fit into a day is a good thing. Set small goals. When you’re short on time, accept the idea of a 15 minute walk. As I always say, “some exercise is better than no exercise”.

What are your back to school health and fitness goals? Share in the comment section.