Ten years ago I had no interest in nutrition until I decided to become nutrition savvy for my own health. Turning to a healthy lifestyle saved me from a lifelong battle with depression, poor self esteem by giving me an energy and zest for life again. Not only do I feel better, but I'm also happier, plus I even look younger than I did in high school, which is a nice bonus! Learning to become nutrition savvy isn’t hard at all. I didn’t learn everything in a classroom initially, though my passion for nutrition did later lead me to my college degree in the field. At a very young age, I developed certain ways to learn more about the food I was eating, and why I should care. Here are my top ways to become nutrition savvy that you can implement into your life to make a huge difference in more ways than you can imagine.
1. Read Health and Fitness Magazines
One of my favorite ways to become nutrition savvy is to simply pick up popular health and fitness magazines. Visit your local supermarket, bookstore, or your online library to find great, reliable health and fitness magazines. If you have an iPad or iPhone, you can even subscribe digitally. I used to get on the treadmill for a power walk and read an entire magazine, feeling so much more knowledgeable about what nutrition was, and why I should care. Some of my favorites are Women’s Health and Fitness, Fitness magazine, Health, Shape, Clean Eating, Self, and Oxygen.
2. Read Labels
Learning what to look for on that confusing nutrition label is key to becoming nutrition savvy. First of all, calories aren’t half as important as quality. What you need to look for is in the ingredient list. The front of a package and the nutrition label can lie to you or deceive you, but the ingredient list will not! Read it to see if there are any ingredients you don’t recognize, which are often nothing more than unhealthy preservatives and harmful ingredients. If you see hydrogenated anything, which is an unhealthy processed fat, put it back. You also want to avoid all forms of refined sugar, such as sugar, high fructose corn syrup or any other kind of syrup, brown sugar, dextrose, or artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, fructose, glucose, and many others. Check out FitSugar’s list of names for sugar in the sources below for more information on sugar. Also avoid unhealthy levels of salt in packaged foods. Be sure salt isn’t one of the first five ingredients and make sure the sodium content isn’t over 350 mg in any packaged food you buy. The healthiest foods you can eat have either no ingredient label, or they contain a very short list of ingredients. These are usually foods on the outer perimeters of the store like produce, nonfat organic dairy, organic meat, and the bulk section which is full of healthy nuts, spices, grains and seeds. If you buy anything frozen, make sure it doesn't have added ingredients in the ingredients label, but only contains the actual food, such as frozen veggies or fish.
3. Check out Online Websites
Reading reliable websites such as the Mayo Clinic, the Nutritional Research website, Eat Right.org, and even online health and fitness magazine websites can be a great way to learn about nutrition. These resources are also all free, which is a bonus all in itself.
4. Visit the Library
The library is filled with great information about nutrition. You can check out tons of great books about nutrition, which are not only free to take home and read, but also filled with great information. Some of my favorite resources for nutrition have been found at the library.
5. Get an App
Everybody loves apps, and if you need some help with nutrition, there’s an app for that! Some of my favorites include Slim Down Shopping List by Women’s Health and Fitness magazine, Calorie Tracker and My Fitness Pal. These apps don’t just give you calorie content, but teach you about the nutrients in each of the foods and help you select smart choices at the store. Even if you’re not looking to lose weight, they are generally great apps to learn more about health and fitness.
6. Take a Free Class
Did you know there are many free online college classes that teach about nutrition? Colleges such as John Hopkins University, Harvard and Tufts University offer free courses in Nutrition that also certify you in the specialized classes. Check out the source link below for more information. You’ll be on your way to top-notch college education all for free!
7. Go to the Bookstore
I’ll admit I'm a total book nerd, but the bookstore truly is one of your biggest assets to learning about nutrition. Not only do bookstores have great health and fitness magazines, but they also have a huge variety of nutrition books. You can grab a cup of coffee or tea while you’re there and read any book that interests you in the field of health and nutrition, without even having to buy anything. Visit once per month and you’ll be on your way to being more nutrition savvy in no time.
It is pretty obvious to most people that I have a strong passion for nutrition, but I haven't always been this way. Learning to become nutrition savvy was one of the best things I ever did for myself and my health. Not only do I not waste money on fake foods anymore, but I’m also not filling my body with foods that zap my energy or wreck my mood. If you feel clueless about health and nutrition, don’t be intimidated. There are tons of great resources like these I’ve mentioned to make you more nutrition savvy in no time! Do you have any favorite health and fitness resources you’d like to share?