When trying to become more healthy, people typically focus on two areas: Eating and exercising. Modifying your diet and getting your steps in are common ways to improve your health, but is one more important than the other? Does avoiding a bag of chips and an extra scoop of ice cream help more than going to the gym?
"They are interconnected and mutually supportive," says Melissa Francik, Registered Dietitian, Wellness Coach & Weight Management Specialist at Pullman Regional Hospital. "Eating enough and consistently throughout the day fuels our muscles, brain, and nervous system with a steady supply of glucose. That helps us have a more positive emotional experience and want to continue with exercise habits."
Whether you're looking to improve your diet or get your body moving, check out Melissa’s tips and tricks to help you meet your health goals!
- Explore what areas of your life are already going well. Do you have positive relationships? What are your strengths, and how are you celebrating them? After you identify successes , turn your attention toward an area where you'd like to focus on making small changes. Choose a good first experiment to try in this area–it could be cooking one meal per week to improve nutrition by cooking at home. Perhaps it's walking for 15 minutes a day to improve exercise habits. Starting small in an area you are interested in or are excited about is crucial for long-term success.
- When meal prepping, take advantage of quick-and-easy meals. Look for healthy recipes that take less than 30, or even 10 minutes, to prepare. Doing so will help lessen the feeling that eating healthy is a chore and more of a commitment to your goal. Success breeds success.
- Typically, the best diet is eating in an enjoyable, sustainable way that meets your body's nutritional needs, supports your health goals and aligns with your values whenever possible. "Diets are individualized based on health status, medical history, preferences, culture, and access to food," Francik says. "This is the work of the Registered Dietitian, to help people navigate their way to discovering an authentic, healthy way to eat that fits their health goals and lifestyle."
- There are many ways to improve your diet and take positive steps in your nutritional health! Generally, eating regular, consistent meals rich in plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, is a great place to start. Strong dietary patterns also include good sources of calcium (dairy or non-dairy), lean proteins (which may be from animal or plant sources or a mixture), and healthy fats, predominantly from unsaturated fat sources from plants or seafood.
- Exercise can act as a doorway to building positive habits like improving dietary habits. Doing things that make us feel good makes us more likely to want to do other things to care for ourselves. Don’t force yourself to workout if you don’t enjoy it. Take a walk with a friend and enjoy catching up.
- Focus on other areas outside of eating and exercise. This may include joyful movement (dancing, riding your bike, or taking your dog for a walk), improving your sleep, finding ways for healthy coping (which includes emotional well-being, creative outlets, and stress management), or building and maintaining meaningful relationships in your life.
"The great news is there are lots of different ways to 'get the job done' and take positive steps in our nutritional health," Francik says. When looking to improve your health and lifestyle, there is no “one way” for your journey of health; there are unlimited possibilities. Find a path that fits your needs and goals, start with small, doable changes that move you in the direction of your bigger goals.
If you feel that you would benefit from the help of a nutritionist, visit your primary care provider and ask for a referral to the Pullman Regional Hospital Nutrition Therapy team. This group provides personalized nutrition counseling in various areas, including weight management, eating disorders, food intolerances, sports nutrition & much more.
Explore services and connect with the team today by visiting the Pullman Regional Hospital Nutrition webpage.