Guest Feature Article from learnfit.org
Summer is upon us and that means it’s time to start thinking about your warm-weather fitness goals. Whether you want to lose weight for physical or mental health reasons, keep reading for a few practical ways to eat well this summer and why your diet is so important in recovering from addiction and depression.
Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables is a great way to introduce your taste buds to what food actually tastes like; locally grown fruits and vegetables are more flavorful than their shipped-across-the-country counterparts. And, since local produce is typically picked at its peak, you will get the most nutrition out of each bite. Many people don’t realize that most of the whole foods found in their local grocery store are picked early and forced to ripen in transit. Food plucked before its prime is deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, which can actually exacerbate health conditions including depression.
There are a number of foods that come in season as the weather begins to warm that can do a lot for your mental and physical health. Corn, while high in starch, is an excellent source of lutein and other nutrients that can actually help prevent some UV damage to the skin. Likewise, tomatoes, which contain high levels of lycopene, can help protect your skin from UV radiation. On the sweeter side, tart cherries, a tasty treat that ripens in the summer, contain compounds that can activate fat burning molecules and lower your body’s fat storage capabilities. Another summer favorite, watermelons, are more than 92% water and can help keep your body hydrated. Studies have found that proper hydration is essential for both memory and mood stabilization.
It isn’t just fruits and vegetables that come available in different seasons. Many coastal areas, for example, offer a different selection of fresh seafood depending on the time of year. You can eat fresh fish twice a week to get your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduced systemic inflammation and can stave off depression and other mood disorders. For a list of foods available each season, visit the USDA online here.
Food is a powerful medicine and a number of recent studies suggest that nutrition can play a role in addiction recovery. Individuals suffering with drug addiction are often malnourished. This is partly due to drugs interfering with the body’s ability to properly absorb nutrients from food. Many recovering addicts find they can replace their negative habits with positive ones, such as preparing healthy foods for themselves, their friends, and family. Check out this article on how nutrition helps speed up recovery.
Combined with the following healthy habits, seasonal nutrition is a great way to help you lose weight and improve your overall health.
Eat slowly. Research suggests that eating slowly can help you better digest your food and lead to greater dining satisfaction. Adversely, eating too fast will promote weight gain since we tend to overdo it when we don’t slow down long enough to let our brains receive the signals that we are full.
Don’t skip the grains. It’s true that you should limit your carbohydrate intake, but whole grains are an essential part of a balanced diet for people with healthy immune systems. Eating whole grains helps your body stay satisfied for longer periods of time, which will help you eat less and keep your energy levels stable.
Get moving. Healthy adults should exercise 20 to 30 minutes three to four times per week for optimal health benefits, including weight loss and maintenance, depression abatement, and cardiovascular support.
Eat the rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, and blue are not just colors on the spectrum. Foods of each hue offers unique health benefits and are packed with vitamins and minerals essential to both mental and physical well-being.
Eat more than three times each day. Your metabolism is driven by food. Reduce physical and mental sluggishness by breaking your three large meals into six smaller meals each day. You’ll not only have the chance to eat a more diverse range of nutrition, but your body will function better longer since it won’t have to deal with hunger and energy crashes.
*Learn more about healthy eating habits at learnfit.org