As one of three girls, my mom coached us to eat all of our fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep, and be physically active every day. During my dietetic internship with Sodexo, I realized that this is much easier said than done. According to the CDC, only 33% of us adults get the recommended servings of fruit in a day. Only one in five meet the overall physical activity guidelines for aerobic activity a week and less than 40% of adults get the recommended amount of sleep in a night. The question remains, what is stopping us from living a healthy life?
The USDA’s MyPlate recommends enjoying half a plate of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables will protect us against certain cancers, fill us up, reduce our risk of developing heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, lower our blood pressure, and help achieve and/or maintain a healthy weight. You can add leftover veggies to soups or stir-fries, top cereal with fruit, add extra veggies to your sandwiches, and make a smoothie with frozen fruit and yogurt. Try to eat breakfast with fruit every morning and keep fruits and veggies on hand for quick snacks. For more tips, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.
Sleep is important for health and well-being throughout all stages of the lifecycle. Sleep helps us perform well, work effectively and safely, fight off infection, maintain a healthy heart, prevent diabetes and obesity, and control emotions and behavior. Having a regular bedtime each night will help to get enough sleep. Bedtime routines such as reading or bathing before bed are also helpful in aiding sleep patterns. We need 7-8 hours of sleep a night!
Physical activity does not have to be running a marathon or hitting the gym five times a week, start slow and look for simple ways to be active. Add small amounts of activity into your day by parking farther away and taking the stairs. Plan time to do activities you enjoy such as walking, riding a bike, playing basketball, hula-hooping or jumping rope. Be active with a buddy and keep track of your activities to keep you motivated. Daily physical activity will help you live longer, boost your mood, sleep better, keep your muscles and bones strong, maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, and enjoy yourself with friends.
What are three simple goals that will work for you? Personally, as a future registered dietitian, my vision is that health is about being the best version of myself. “Believe in yourself all that you are. Know there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” – Christian D. Larson
*Amanda Schroeder Hege is a cum laude graduate from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition and a minor in Chemistry. She previously was the Nutrition Services Coordinator at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC where she developed and led a nutrition program from its origin. This work contributed to her selection as one of ten members on the Nutrition Solutions Working Group in the Future of Food partnership with Feeding America, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and The National Dairy Council. Amanda is currently a dietetic intern in Sodexo’s Mid-Atlantic Dietetic Internship, Wellness Emphasis.
 State Report. Majority of Americans not Meeting Recommendations for Fruit and Vegetable Consumption. CDC. September 29, 2009. Retrieved on April 30, 2014 at http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2009/r090929.htm.
 One in five adults meet overall physical activity guidelines. CDC. May 2, 2013. Retrieved on April 30, 2014 at http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/p0502-physical-activity.html.
 Jones, J. U.S., 40% Get Less Than Recommended Amount of Sleep. Gallup Well-Being. December 19, 2013. Retrieved on April 30, 2014 at http://www.gallup.com/poll/166553/less-recommended-amount-sleep.aspx.