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Understanding Disordered Eating in Athletes

NOVA Sports Nutrition Disordered Eating

Eating disorders in sports is a complex issue that warrants attention and support. Let’s explore what disordered eating entails in the athletic context and discuss actionable steps and resources to help you navigate this challenge effectively.

Understanding Disordered Eating in Athletes

Disordered eating refers to a range of behaviors and attitudes towards food that deviate from healthy eating patterns. In many sports, athletes may experience unique pressures that contribute to the development of disordered eating habits. Athletes such as bodybuilders, gymnasts and ballerinas alike for example, can experience aesthetic pressures. These pressures present themselves as body dysmorphia, social pressures, exercise addictions and more. 

Recognizing the signs

It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between behaviors rooted in improving health and athletic performance and behaviors that begin to cross into rigid or disordered behaviors that can cause physical or emotional harm. Below are some common signs of disordered eating to be aware of:

  • Calorie Tracking and Food Restriction
    • Constant monitoring of food intake and avoidance of specific food groups, especially if it leads to significant energy or nutrient restriction or avoidance of social situations due to not having control over the ingredients or amount of food, can often be one of the first signs of an eating disorder.
  • Obsession with Weight or Body Composition
    • In many collegiate and professional sport environments, measuring weight or body composition can be a common way to track progress and use data to inform nutrition or training goals. However, fixation on achieving a certain weight or body shape at the expense of health becomes a concern and can ultimately lead to decreased athletic performance.
  • Excessive Exercise
    • Athletes will often have demanding training programs as part of their sport, but if an athlete is engaging in compulsive exercise to offset food intake or burn calories or is engaging in exercise beyond what is prescribed by coaches and trainers, the risk for a disorder (as well as injury or illness) significantly increase.
  • Emotional Responses to Eating
    • Feelings of guilt or shame associated with food consumption are important to pay attention to and are not feelings associated with having a healthy relationship with food and body image.

Overcoming Disordered Eating: Practical Tips and Resources

If any of the above signs resonate with you, there are many resources and tools that can help you to begin the journey towards a positive relationship with food and body image and true focus on health and performance:

  • Professional Support
    • Seek guidance from qualified healthcare professionals, including registered dietitians and therapists specializing in eating disorders. We offer personalized assistance and nutrition interventions tailored to individual needs and are always happy to provide referrals to local or telehealth therapists.
  • Embrace Balanced Nutrition
    • When selecting foods, it’s important to think about what will fuel you well, what will provide good nutrition, and also what will taste good to you! The focus isn’t just on macronutrients, but also making food enjoyable and finding meals and snacks that are well balanced in all areas.
  • Prioritize Performance and Health
    • Redirect your attention from external appearance to performance and holistic well-being. Emphasize the importance of fueling your body adequately to support athletic endeavors and promote longevity in the sport.
  • Develop Coping Mechanisms
    • Explore healthy coping strategies to manage stress, emotions, and pressures associated with athletic pursuits. Practices such as mindfulness, journaling, and seeking social support can aid in building resilience.
  • Build a Support Network
    • Surround yourself with a supportive community of teammates, coaches, and peers who prioritize health and well-being. Foster open communication and create a safe space for discussing challenges and seeking assistance.
  • Educate Yourself
    • Equip yourself with knowledge about nutrition and its role in optimizing athletic performance. Understanding nutritional principles can dispel myths and misconceptions, empowering you to make informed choices about fueling your body effectively. Be mindful of who you follow on social media, and if you need recommendations for good follows you can always ask us!

Disordered eating poses significant challenges for athletes, but with awareness, support, and actionable strategies, it can be addressed effectively. By prioritizing health, seeking professional guidance, and fostering a supportive environment, athletes can overcome disordered eating and cultivate a positive relationship with food and their bodies. Remember, your worth as an athlete transcends physical appearance and is rooted in your dedication, resilience, and passion for your sport.

What Can You Do If You Suspect That You or A Loved One May Be Experiencing Disordered Eating?

The most important thing to do is reach out for help or additional resources as soon as possible. Both disordered eating and eating disorders have higher rates of recovery when these issues are addressed early. It’s important to find a trusted professional or team of professionals to help guide you or your loved one. Health professionals that can help include registered dietitians, counselors or therapists, psychiatrists, primary care doctors, and social workers. Please note that it’s important to seek out professionals that have experience working in the field of eating disorders or disordered eating in particular. Not all dietitians will be able to help with these issues, just like not all doctors are specialized in cardiology or orthopedics.

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National Salad Month Staples

NOVA Sports Nutrition National Salad Month

During the spring harvest – spinach, leaf lettuce and many other greens are available at your
local farmer’s market, so you are all set to pick up ingredients to make the strawberry salad or
create one of your own. Celebrate National Salad month with some of our favorite spring salad recipes

Strawberry Salad
Get your favorite bowl, add several cups of greens (spinach, leaf lettuce etc), a cup of sliced
strawberries, toasted pecans or almonds, crumbled feta pieces and sprinkle with your favorite
brand of balsamic or poppy seed salad dressing. Mix together and enjoy! Using spinach helps
boost your iron intake. The strawberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C. This salad is
delicious and packed full of essential nutrients.

Kale, Apple, and Berry Salad (Vegan)
Combine raw kale and spinach, slice up apples and add to the salad, add blueberries, almonds,
craisins and top with your favorite low-fat dressing

Cashew Salad
Combine spinach, sliced red peppers, carrots and red cabbage, top with raw
cashews and berries.

Grilled Chicken Strawberry Salad
Combine spinach, romaine lettuce, strawberries, mandarin
oranges, and red onion in a large bowl and mix together, top with slivered almonds and drizzle
your favorite poppyseed dressing.

Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad
Put romaine lettuce in a bowl, add grilled shrimp, sprinkle with
shaved parmesan cheese, and drizzle with your favorite low-fat Caesar dressing.
Grilled Steak Salad – Add spinach to your favorite salad bowl, slice up and add red onion and
avocado, add cherry tomatoes and grilled steak on top, sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Bonus: Berry Bark Treats

  • 2 cups plan Greek yogurt or any dairy free yogurt (soy, cashew or coconut yogurt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds chopped or slivered almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed berries fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate or the dark chocolate chips (morsels)
  • 1/2 cup thick coconut chips or flakes
  1. In medium bowl combine yogurt, vanilla and syrup/honey; mix well
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread yogurt mixture on it as thin as you can.  Add almonds, berries, chocolate, and coconut chips over the top, then gently press them into yogurt mixture. Drizzle a little honey on top if you want.
  3. Place in freezer for 3-4 hours, break into pieces and serve. 
  4. Store in airtight container in freezer (can store for up to one month).

Let us know in the comments which one was your National Salad Month favorite!

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Understanding Protein Absorption in Sports Nutrition

NOVA Sports Nutrition Protein

What’s the limit to protein absorption in a single meal, and how can meal balance impact performance? Let’s explore these concepts.

Protein Absorption Limit:

It’s important to recognize that the body’s capacity to absorb protein isn’t boundless. According to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, consuming approximately 0.35 grams of protein per 1 pound of body weight per meal maximizes muscle protein synthesis (MPS). For instance, for someone weighing 165 pounds, this translates to roughly 60 grams of protein per meal.

Balancing Meals for Optimal Performance:

Even Distribution of Protein Intake

Rather than front-loading protein in one meal, aim for a consistent spread of protein across your daily meals and snacks. This approach ensures a steady supply of amino acids for muscle repair and growth throughout the day.

Pairing Protein with Carbohydrates

Combining protein with carbohydrates can enhance protein absorption and replenish glycogen stores, essential for sustained energy during workouts. Opt for complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables for sustained energy release.

Incorporating Healthy Fats

Healthy fats play a role in hormone production and nutrient absorption, contributing to overall performance and recovery. Include sources such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish in your meals to support these functions.

Whole Foods Over Supplements

While protein supplements are convenient, whole food sources are often richer in nutrients and offer additional health benefits. Prioritize lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and tofu in your diet.

Hydration is Key

Adequate hydration supports digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall performance. Ensure you drink enough water throughout the day, particularly around your workout sessions.

Consider Timing

While the precise timing of protein intake isn’t critical, consuming protein-rich meals or snacks within a few hours of exercise can aid muscle repair and recovery.

In sports nutrition, understanding the dynamics of protein absorption and meal balance is crucial for achieving performance objectives. By strategically distributing protein intake, combining it with carbohydrates and healthy fats, and favoring whole food sources, you can optimize your nutrition regimen for enhanced athletic performance and recovery.

For additional expert tips and guidance on your journey, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram for the latest updates and content.

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Personalized Fitness Programs: Your Key to Lasting Results

NOVA Sports Nutrition personalized fitness programs

When it comes to fitness, achieving your goals isn’t just about breaking a sweat; it’s about doing so efficiently and effectively. Whether you’re aiming to build muscle, or enhance overall well-being, mastering proper form and using customized fitness programs are key components of sustainable growth. Let’s explore why monitoring form and embracing personalized workout plans can propel you closer to your desired results.

Why Monitoring Form Matters

Form is the foundation of any exercise routine, and neglecting it can lead to injury, inefficiency, and suboptimal results. Here’s why keeping an eye on your fitness form is crucial:

Injury Prevention: Poor form increases the risk of strains, sprains, and other injuries. By maintaining proper alignment and technique, you minimize the chance of sidelining setbacks that could derail your progress.

Muscle Engagement: Correct form ensures that you’re targeting the intended muscle groups effectively. From squats to push-ups, each movement should be executed with precision to maximize muscle engagement and growth.

Efficiency and Effectiveness: When you perform exercises with proper form, you get more bang for your buck. You’ll optimize each rep, leading to greater strength gains, endurance improvements, and overall fitness enhancements.

Long-Term Progress: Consistently monitoring and refining your form sets the stage for long-term progress and success. As you master each exercise, you can gradually increase intensity and complexity, pushing your limits while staying injury-free.

The Power of Customized Fitness Programs

No two bodies are the same, so why should your workout routine be one-size-fits-all? Customized fitness programs take your unique goals, abilities, and preferences into account, delivering tailored solutions that set you up for triumph. Here’s why personalized workouts are a game-changer:

Goal Alignment: Whether you’re aiming to lose weight, gain muscle, or improve athletic performance, a customized fitness program aligns with your specific objectives. Each exercise and workout session is designed to propel you closer to your goals, keeping you motivated and on track.

Optimized Results: Generic workout plans might yield some results, but they pale in comparison to the targeted effectiveness of personalized programs. By catering to your individual needs and abilities, customized fitness routines deliver superior results in less time.

Adaptability and Progression: Your fitness journey is a dynamic process, and your program should evolve alongside you. With customized workouts, adjustments can be made as needed to accommodate changes in fitness level, preferences, and goals, ensuring continued progress and satisfaction.

Motivation and Accountability: Knowing that your workouts are specifically tailored to you can be a powerful motivator. Customized fitness programs provide a sense of ownership and investment in your journey, keeping you accountable and inspired to push harder and strive for greatness.

In the pursuit of optimal fitness and well-being, performing your best with customized fitness programs is indispensable strategies for success. By prioritizing proper technique and tailoring your workouts to your individual needs, you’ll unlock your full potential and achieve results. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a newcomer to the fitness scene, NOVA Sport Nutrition commits to your performance with personalized programming and nutritional needs

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High-Fiber: A Dietitian’s Guide to Better Food Choices

NOVA Sports Nutrition Dietary Fiber

As a dietitian, I often find myself emphasizing the importance of fiber in a balanced diet. Not only does it aid in digestion and promote gut health, but it also plays a crucial role in managing weight, reducing cholesterol levels, and maintaining stable blood sugar levels. However, many people struggle to incorporate enough fiber into their daily meals. That’s why I’m here to share some valuable insights into high-fiber choices that are both nutritious and delicious.

Understanding Fiber

Before we dive into the top high-fiber choices, let’s clarify what fiber is and why it’s essential for our health. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods that our bodies cannot digest. Instead, it passes through the digestive system, aiding in regular bowel movements and promoting overall digestive health. There are two main types of fiber: soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance, and insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve and helps move food through the digestive tract.

Top High-Fiber Choices

Fruits and Vegetables: These colorful gems are rich in fiber and offer a wide range of health benefits. Aim to incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your meals and snacks each day. Berries, apples, pears, oranges, broccoli, carrots, and leafy greens are excellent choices packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Whole Grains: Swap refined grains for their whole grain counterparts to boost your fiber intake. Opt for whole grain bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, oats, and barley. These wholesome grains provide a hearty dose of fiber, along with essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, and B vitamins.

Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas are nutritional powerhouses loaded with fiber and plant-based protein. Add them to soups, salads, stir-fries, and chili for a satisfying and fiber-rich meal. Bonus: legumes are budget-friendly and environmentally sustainable.

Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Sprinkle them over yogurt, oatmeal, or salads for a crunchy and nutritious boost.

Snack Smart: Choose high-fiber snacks to satisfy your cravings while nourishing your body. Opt for air-popped popcorn, whole grain crackers with hummus, raw vegetables with guacamole, or a piece of fruit with nut butter.

Tips for Increasing Fiber Intake

– Gradually increase fiber intake to prevent digestive discomfort.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

– Experiment with new recipes and cooking methods to keep meals exciting and flavorful.

Whether you’re training for a team sport, endurance race, physique competition, or to improve your health generally, NOVA can create a nutrition plan to help you reach your goal. We take the guesswork out of meal planning and help you to take control of your diet.

Nutrition counseling services are provided via secure video chat or in-person in Northern Virginia. Please reach out via the contact page or schedule a free discovery call to learn more about pricing for our nutrition services!

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Promoting Overall Well-Being and Improving Athletic Performance

Athletic performance NOVA Sports Nutrition

Embarking on a journey toward better health and performance usually requires expert guidance and support. That’s where NOVA Sports Nutrition steps in. We specialize in providing tailored counseling services aimed at optimizing health, enhancing athletic performance, and promoting overall well-being. With a team of experienced nutrition professionals, NOVA Sports Nutrition offers personalized guidance, evidence-based strategies, and ongoing support to help you achieve your goals. Whether you’re an athlete striving for peak performance or seeking to improve your health, we are dedicated to empowering you on your health goals. Through comprehensive nutrition counseling, we are committed to helping you with your relationship with food and athletic performance.

Tailored Guidance: We offer personalized counseling, tailoring plans to specific needs, preferences, and goals, ensuring optimal nutrition for improved performance.

Health Optimization: By addressing dietary habits and nutritional needs, our counseling services assist in preventing and managing various health conditions, promoting overall well-being.

Weight Management Solutions: We provide strategies for achieving healthy weight goals, whether it involves weight loss, gain, or maintenance, supporting you on your journey to optimal health.

Performance Enhancement: For athletes and active people, our nutrition counseling optimizes performance through expert guidance on fueling, hydration, and recovery strategies.

Behavioral Change Support: Our team offers support and practical strategies to facilitate lasting changes in dietary habits, fostering long-term health and wellness.

Nutritional Education: Benefit from our educational approach to gain insights into the nutritional value of foods and making informed choices that support your health goals.

Mental Well-being Support: We recognize the significant impact of nutrition on your mental health and strive to provide guidance on dietary choices that promote mood stability, energy, and cognitive function.

Accountability and Encouragement: With regular sessions and ongoing support, we work together to ensure you stay accountable to your goals, empowering you to make sustainable changes for lasting health benefits.

Sustainable Lifestyle Promotion: Our approach prioritizes long-term sustainability over quick fixes, guiding you towards lifestyle changes that support overall health and well-being for the future.

No matter what your goal is, our team can help you to develop a sustainable routine that is tailored to your specific needs, preferences, and lifestyle. All meal plans, nutrition recommendations, and workout plans are completely personalized in order to ensure maximum results. Ready to get started? Reach out to learn more and start working towards your health and fitness goals!

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Anxieties Around Sugar Consumption

NOVA Sports Nutrition sugar intake

Anxieties around consuming sugar have become increasingly prevalent in modern society as awareness of its potential health impacts has grown. Many people worry about the effects of excessive sugar intake on their overall well-being, including weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and dental issues. This concern is not unfounded, as there are many studies that have linked high sugar consumption to these health problems.

Part of the anxiety surrounding sugar consumption comes from its presence in our modern diet. Sugar is not only found in obvious sources like sweets and sugary drinks but also in a lot of processed foods, including sauces, dressings, and even snacks that “seem” healthy. This makes it difficult for people to control their sugar intake which then leads to feelings of frustration and anxiety for those trying to make healthier dietary choices.

The conflicting information in the media and online can also contribute to uncertainty and anxiety about sugar. While some sources emphasize the detrimental effects of sugar on health, others try to downplay its risks or promote alternative sweeteners as healthier options. This conflicting advice can leave people feeling confused and anxious about making the right choices for their health.

To address these anxieties and make informed decisions about sugar consumption, it’s very important to educate ourselves about the role of sugar in our diet, its potential health effects, and strategies for reducing intake. Fortunately, there are many educational resources available to help you navigate these concerns such as The American Heart Association and Dietary Guidelines For Americans. 

Managing sugar anxieties can be difficult, but there are several strategies that can help you navigate your concerns more effectively:

  • Read Labels: Become familiar with reading food labels to identify sources of added sugars in packaged foods. Look out for terms like sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, and other sugar derivatives.
  • Focus on Whole Foods: Incorporate more whole foods into your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These foods are naturally low in added sugars and provide essential nutrients.
  • Limit Processed Foods: Minimize your consumption of processed and packaged foods, as these usually contain hidden sugars. Opt for homemade meals and snacks whenever possible to have more control over ingredients. 
  • Practice Moderation: You don’t have to cut out sugar entirely to be healthy. Instead, focus on moderation and mindful eating. Enjoy your favorite sweet treats occasionally, but be mindful of portion sizes.
  • Find Alternatives: Experiment with natural sugars or sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or stevia as alternatives to refined sugars. Just remember to use them in moderation.
  • Stay Hydrated: Sometimes, feelings of hunger or cravings can be mistaken for thirst. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and curb cravings.
  • Manage Stress: Stress can trigger cravings for sugary foods, so finding healthy ways to manage stress can help reduce the urge to overindulge in sweets. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
  • Plan Ahead: Plan your meals and snacks in advance to avoid impulsive decisions when hunger strikes. Having healthy options readily available can help you make better choices.
  • Seek Support: If sugar consumption anxieties are significantly impacting your well-being, consider seeking support from a registered dietitian, therapist, or support group. Talking to others who share similar concerns can provide validation and practical advice.

Remember, it’s normal to have concerns about sugar consumption, but it’s important not to let those anxieties control your life. By adopting healthy eating habits and finding a balance that works for you, you can enjoy a varied and satisfying diet while prioritizing your health and well-being.

NOVA Sports Nutrition is here to help you make food choices that align with your health goals. Whether you’re training for a team sport, endurance race, physique competition, or to improve your health generally, NOVA can create a workout plan to help you reach your goal. We take the guesswork out of meal planning and will help you to take control of your diet once and for all!

Nutrition counseling services are provided via secure video chat or in-person in Northern Virginia. Please reach out via the contact page or schedule a free discovery call to learn more about pricing for our nutrition services!

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Mindful Eating for Athletes

NOVA mindful eating

Mindful eating involves deliberate focus on your internal and external environments. The aim is to increase your presence during eating by consciously consuming food using all your senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound). Most people however are eating mindlessly.  Mindless eating or eating without purpose, may cause your body to get confused about what, when or why you need to eat and may become driven by external cues to eat. These external cues may include: eating because others are eating or because food is in front of you and responding to appetite signals (i.e. food smells good) over hunger signals (grumbling stomach). Overeating is also common with mindless eating because you may eat too quickly to register fullness. This can impact body composition, efficient fueling for training, sleep, and your relationship with food. All of this may ultimately impact health and sports performance.  

The use of mindful eating aims to increase awareness of hunger cues of the body and fullness signals, eating with purpose and intuition. In general, your body has an instinctive way of knowing just what it needs to maintain weight and sustain health. Eating mindfully can assist the athlete in building skills in the selection of foods and quantities necessary to support training and competition needs of the body. Mindfulness practices and eating strategies for athletes can help reduce stress, improve overall quality of life, improve sleep, and even reduce the risk of injury.

Mindful eating strategies for athletes go beyond simple fueling guidelines. Mindful eating is about bringing together the ideas of what your body needs physically and also using inner wisdom (what we know and understand about ourselves and our bodies). This will help athletes succeed in figuring out individualized fueling and training plans in addition to fostering a healthy relationship with food. 

Increasing awareness of internal cues like hunger, energy and appetite and understanding what the body is trying to tell you can help to ascertain dietary energy requirements day-to-day. Being mindful of the food you are eating and the role it plays in fueling your body and being grateful for how food helps you develop and increase performance, rather than just taste and convenience, will help drive better choices to serve the body’s needs to perform at your best. 

Minimizing distractions during meals is a great way to get started with mindful eating. Other habits can include chewing your food more thoroughly, savoring each bite, and evaluating how you feel before, during, and after your meal.

Mindful Eating is Useful for Athletes

  • Increase awareness of your physical and emotional cues for eating
  • Understand the impact that training has on your body’s signals of hunger and fullness and when fueling the body is a priority
  • Develop strategies to foster a healthy relationship with food 
  • Decrease over-thinking, stress and self-criticism associated with dietary intake and eat for enjoyment and nourishment.  
  • Allow intake to be flexible with variations in training load from day-to-day and eating to meet training demands on a busy schedule
  • Assist in building skills in the selection of appropriate foods and quantities to support training loads
  • Reduce overeating or overcompensating intake for something you missed
  • Empower decision making and ownership over intake
  • Increase ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and still make a good food choice (on the road eating before and after competition)
  • Help with positive weight management and altering body composition
  • Develop strategies to foster a healthy relationship with food, reduce disordered eating, and prevent under-fueling

Tips to Help Athletes Achieve Mindful Eating

  • Eat meals without distractions by focusing on what you are eating
  • Acknowledge your meal time by sitting down to eat and dedicate time for eating
  • Avoid eating “on-the-go” when you can, so that you can focus more attention to eating
  • Prior to eating, take 10 seconds and pause to check-in with yourself and identify your internal cues to eat, and what role that food will play in fueling your training or health.  
  • Understand that you do not need to finish everything on your plate, stop eating when full and put the leftovers away for another meal.
  • Just like your sport and training, mindful eating takes practice to master; be persistent and patient, and change will come.

If you are looking to adopt more mindful eating habits, try some of these tips to enjoy food more while improving performance. Focus on making positive memories, enjoying your favorite foods, and banning any feelings of guilt over food choices. If you still feel anxious about food choices send Nikky a message and she will be happy to offer additional support!

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Growing Your Own Vegetables

NOVA gardening

Gardening is a great option to provide healthy food options for your family. Gardening is also a great way to get some physical activity, fresh air and sunshine. Gardening outside connects you with nature and can destress the body. Vegetable gardens can save you money on grocery bills.  Families who create gardens eat more fruits and vegetables than those who do not. 

Let’s start with some of the best fruits and vegetables to grow in Northern Virginia: 

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Lettuce and Leafy Greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini and Squash
  • Beans
  • Berries (Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries)
  • Herbs (Basil, Parsley, Mint, Oregano)
  • Broccoli and Cauliflower
  • Carrots and Radishes

Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to grow, follow these tips for beginner gardeners:

  • Before you start digging, choose a location that takes into consideration the size of the garden you want, the type of plants you want to grow and your climate. 
  • The amount of sunlight each area gets; some plants need full sun while others tolerate partial shade.
  • Consider how much time you have to garden; you can start small and gradually increase the size of your garden, as you gain experience.
  • Water plants regularly, at the base of the plant and early in the day. Clear weeds from your garden regularly; weeds compete with plants for water. 
  • The best time to plant a garden varies depending on your climate. In general, you should plant when the soil is warm and the weather is consistently temperate. Consult the National Gardening Association website  for the best time to start planting your garden and other helpful tips. 

It’s always a good idea to consult with local gardening resources on your journey. Check out the Virginia Cooperative Extension for specific advice tailored to your area. Lastly, if starting a garden is not possible, consider participating in a local community garden

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Beyond The Table: Farm-to-Fork

NOVA Beyond The Table

This year’s theme is “Beyond the Table,” which addresses the farm-to-fork aspect of nutrition, from food production and distribution to navigating grocery stores and farmers markets. Beyond the table also includes where and how we eat:  around the dinner table, on the go, auto dining, in schools and restaurants, socially and at entertainment venues. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you create healthy habits that are sustainable and suit your lifestyle, incorporating any unique needs you have.  A healthy intake includes a variety of foods, eaten at home and away, no matter your food budget.

Tips to Stay Nourished on Any Budget

  • Cook at home
  • Use a grocery list to avoid overspending and impulse purchases
  • Shop weekly sales when purchasing foods
  • Join a community supported agriculture group
  • Plant a garden and grow food at home
  • Buy local

Eat a Variety of Foods from all Food Groups and Around the Globe

  • Regardless of your food choices, make half your plate fruits and vegetables, with the other half lean protein choices and whole grain pastas, brown rice or potatoes.
  • Include your favorite cultural foods and traditions
  • Eat foods in various forms including fresh, frozen, canned and dried.
  • Experiment with recipes using different ingredients
  • Try new foods or healthy global cuisines such as:
    • Stir-fried chicken and vegetables served over brown rice
    • Minestrone
    • Gnocchi (mix spinach in the dough) served with chopped vegetables 
    • Pita Sandwiches full of vegetables
    • Dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with ground meat and vegetables
    • Eggplant and squash over rice
    • Gazpacho (soup with cucumber and vegetables)

Make Your own Meals at Home.

  • People who eat more home-cooked meals not only tend to consume more fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber, but also eat less saturated fat and salt. 
  • Homemade food is typically more budget-friendly than dining out
  • Try new recipes online or treat yourself to a new cookbook.

Sustainable Food Practices

  • Get creative with leftovers to reduce food waste and save money
  • Enjoy more plant-based meals and snacks
  • Buy foods in season and from local farmers and markets when possible
  • Grow food at home, participate in community gardens or buy into community supported agriculture with local farms.

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