Written by Alejandra Francis, RD/LDN, Core Health Partners
Now that holiday celebrations have come and gone, the reality of keeping those New Year’s resolutions may seem daunting. Here are some practical goals, and tips on how to achieve them.
1. Stay hydrated by drinking water. No matter the weather conditions where you are, you need to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. You may not even be hungry; it just may feel like you are thirsty because you have had enough to drink.
How much water should you be drinking each day? The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
2. Be active, have fun, and enjoy outdoor activities. Sitting on the couch and watching movies can be fun, but how about a game of kickball, football, and/ or basketball the kids and adults will enjoy? Just by doing some physical activity for around 30-60 minutes you will get your heart rate pumping, strengthen bones and muscles, boost your mood, and reduce your health risk.
3. Have a mid-morning snack, mid-afternoon snack, and evening snack: Substitute sweet treats with healthy options like vegetables, fruits, nuts, or legumes like nut butter and hummus, whole wheat or whole grain crackers. Check out this recipe to for Rainbow Salsa.
4. Portion control: although it is very tempting to fill up your plate until there is no more room left, a smarter way to eat involves a little reading. The portion size of a specific food item can be read on the Nutrition Fact Label; the recommended serving size, and list of ingredients can be viewed on the recipe.
5. Sleep does the body good. Good quality sleep is essential 365 days of the year. And not getting enough sleep may cause overeating and weight gain. Try to get at least 6-9 hours a sleep a night to start your day on the right foot.
6. Stress relief: a stressful lifestyle can potentially cause more craving and binge eating, choosing less healthful options or stopping for fast food because it is quick and convenient. Be mindful of ways to reduce the stress level in your life in a way that works for you. For example, simply taking the time to do deep breathing exercises, mediating, praying, and moderate exercise like stretching or a short walk can help ease anxiety and reduce stress.
7. Focus on fiber-rich foods. Try to make your starches at least half whole grains or whole wheat. Fiber rich foods include green leafy vegetables, colorful fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, seeds, and whole grains. Studies have shown fiber will improve digestion and help to prevent constipation, reduce blood cholesterol, and help your body improve blood glucose control. Increased dietary fiber can reduce total calorie intake by helping you feel full longer throughout the day, helping you maintain a healthy weight. Americans rarely consume the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of fiber in their diet. Women should aim to get about 25 grams of fiber per day and men should get about 38 grams of fiber per day.
8. Choose healthy ingredients. Look for ways make healthful dishes by using less saturated fats, and less salt and sugar. You can modify your favorite dish by adding more fiber like vegetables or fruits, swapping refined white flour for all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour or whole grain flour, and using more herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of the food.
9. Meal plan: if you are trying to make healthy food choices, it’s helpful to plan so you have healthy options always available, and you may save money by shopping less. Healthy and portable snack options include trail mix with granola, yogurt, and veggie-to-go bag including baby carrots, broccoli, and celery sticks. Meal planning and prepping your meals, will help prevent reaching for snacks or fast food when its dinner time and you don’t know what to eat.
10. Watch what you drink: Sugary beverages have high sugar content and empty calories that are not beneficial for your health which can also cause weight gain. Stick with water and try to limit your intake of caloric sugary beverages.
11. New Year’s resolution goals: the important take away is to stay consistent about making right choices. For many people unrealistic New Year’s Resolutions fade by the end of January. Instead, consider committing to healthy behavior changes that you can stick with for many years to come. Start by making a list of goals you want to accomplish, quantify a time frame to measure your progress, what results would be ideal to accomplish, and when you want to achieve your end goal. Have faith in yourself and you can accomplish anything in life.