10 easy ways to eat healthier

(BPT) - March is National Nutrition Month — so what better time than now to take a look at your diet? If you're indulging in too many break room snacks or swinging by the drive-thru after work, you're not alone. With such a busy life, it's easy to grab something quick and unhealthy on the go. But, the good news is, it's also easy to make changes in your diet that will reap powerful health benefits in no time.

Here are 10 easy ways to eat healthier:

Start small. You don't have to completely overhaul your diet in a day. Start with small things, like taking your lunch to work instead of eating out, cutting down on soda or getting a new cookbook of healthy recipes to inspire you.

Plan your meals. On the weekend, plan your breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the upcoming week, and then head out to the grocery store, and do your shopping so you'll have everything you need on hand.

Cook at home. When you eat out, even when opting for the "healthy" items on the menu, you could be getting hidden doses of salt, sugar and fat. When you cook at home, you can control exactly what you're eating, down to the nutrient. It's healthier for your pocketbook, too.

Explore your health insurance discounts. Many health plans offer resources, discounts and incentives for leading a healthier life. Participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies, for example, have the Blue365 program, which features a variety of health and wellness products and services. Members can save everyday on online deals, including discounts on Retrofit private weight-loss programs, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, healthy cookbooks by Holly Clegg, and more.

Eat the rainbow. Colorful foods are packed with nutrients. Red foods help heart health and improve memory. Orange foods are good for your eyes, yellow foods help with digestion and brain function, purple foods are powerful antioxidants and green foods are good for your eyes, musculature, bones and teeth. All fight cancers. And they're pretty on the plate. Win-win!

Slash the sodium. Lowering your sodium intake can help lower your blood pressure and get rid of water weight. But it's not as easy as putting down the salt shaker. Sodium lurks in places you'd least expect it. Some surprisingly high-sodium foods: raw chicken (if it's been pumped up with a solution), pre-cooked frozen shrimp (usually processed with salt), condiments like ketchup and mustard, smoked anything and cottage cheese.

Watch your sugar. Too much sugar leads to weight gain, abdominal obesity, low HDL and high LDL, elevated blood sugar and a whole host of other problems. But like salt, sugar can hide in foods you might think are healthy, including instant oatmeal, jarred pasta sauce, smoothies, flavored yogurt and salad dressing. A good rule of thumb: Read the label, and if it has a double-digit sugar count, ditch it.

Meatless Mondays! Going vegetarian one day a week is a great way to get more veggies into your diet. Swap the burger for a plate of grilled or roasted veggies drizzled with balsamic vinegar or a big, colorful salad. Just don't pack on the refined carbs like white bread, pasta or potatoes in place of the meat.

Eat anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants protect your cells from free radicals, and eating foods rich in them slows aging, gives you healthier skin, a longer lifespan and reduces cancer risk. Berries, nuts and seeds, fish, olive oil, broccoli and green leafy veggies are antioxidant powerhouses.

Practice mindful eating. Go all Zen with your food. Focus on what you're eating, how you're nourishing your body, and how much you enjoy the taste of the food. Eating at your desk, in the car or in front of the TV makes it more likely you'll overeat.

For more information about how Blue365 can help you get healthier, visit www.blue365deals.com.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Indexsm. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit BCBS.com. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out our blog.

Blue365 offers access to savings on health and wellness products and services and other items that may be purchased from Blue365 Vendors, which are different from covered benefits under your policy(ies) with your local Blue Company, its contracts with Medicare, or any other federally-funded healthcare program. To find out what is covered under your policy(ies), contact your Blue Company. The products and services described on Blue365’s website are neither offered nor guaranteed under your Blue Company’s contract with the Medicare program. In addition, these products and services are not subject to the Medicare appeals process. Any disputes regarding your insurance products and services may be subject to your Blue Company’s grievance process. BCBSA may receive payments from Blue365 Vendors. Neither BCBSA nor any Blue Company recommends, endorses, warrants, or guarantees any specific Blue365 Vendor’s product or service available through the Site.

*Note to Editors: Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies participating in Blue365 are in the following states: AZ, AR, DC, DE, FL, IL,IA, KS, LA, MA,MD, MI, MO, MT, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NY,OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WV, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Federal Employee Program® also participates in Blue365.


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