Mee Memorial Healthcare System Rena Salamacha
Rena Salamacha, CEO, Mee Memorial Healthcare System

March is National Nutrition Month, an excellent time to examine your eating habits and make small incremental changes that will positively impact your health for the long term.

We all know that life can be busy and stressful at times. It’s easy to fall into the trap of unhealthy eating patterns — especially when junk food, sugary drinks and processed snacks are readily available and convenient. However, it’s essential to be aware that consuming junk food too often can significantly impact your health and well-being.

A healthy, balanced diet can help prevent and manage many chronic diseases. It can also significantly reduce the risk of diabetes, a prevalent health issue in Monterey County. With this in mind, it’s essential to know that there are steps you and your family can take to reduce risk and improve physical health. 

Did you know that good nutrition also positively impacts mental health? Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins have been shown to support cognitive function and emotional well-being, resulting in a happier outlook and a more resilient and fulfilling life experience.

Change can be challenging, and building healthier eating habits may seem overwhelming initially, so it’s a good idea to start with small, achievable goals, such as the tips listed below.

These proactive changes can become lasting healthy habits, contributing to a healthier and longer life:

  • Stock fruits and chopped veggies in the fridge as a go-to snack. If these items are prepared and ready, you’ll be less likely to reach for a cookie or a bag of chips.
  • When you have time, prepare healthy meals in advance and store them in the freezer. If you have a meal prepared, you’ll be less likely to fall back on prepackaged processed foods when you need a quick meal.
  • Get friends and family involved at dinner time. Invite guests to take turns choosing a healthy recipe. Gather together to prepare ingredients, cook, and serve the meal — make it a fun event.
  • Incorporate a broad variety of fruits and vegetables into your meals. Explore new tastes. Doing so ensures that you are getting a wide range of nutrients.
  • Watch portion sizes and try to eat at regularly scheduled times to maintain steady energy levels and prevent overeating later in the day.
  • Allow yourself occasional treats in moderation. Depriving yourself of favorite foods can make it challenging to build new healthy habits.
  • Some of the best foods to include in your diet regularly are:

—Leafy Greens: Spinach and kale are rich in vitamins that support overall health.

—Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries have beneficial antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins, offering numerous health benefits.

—Fatty Fish: Salmon, mackerel, and sardines offer omega-3 fatty acids, promoting heart health and supporting brain function.

—Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds, among others, are good sources of healthy fats, fiber, and essential nutrients.

—Lean Proteins: Chicken, turkey, lean beef, tofu, and legumes offer essential proteins for muscle health.

—Water: Hydration is crucial. It helps with digestion, nutrient absorption, and maintaining bodily functions.

Tailoring food choices to your needs is also important. If you need help, make an appointment with your provider to discuss your options.

Overall, remember to balance what you eat, drink, and do. Combine a few of these healthy living tips with a little extra movement each day, and you’ll be well on your way to building healthier habits that will significantly impact the quality of life you and your family experience for many years to come.

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CEO, Mee Memorial Healthcare System


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