New year, new beginnings, it’s a great time to make new resolutions for a healthier YOU. As Dr. Seuss stated “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” It’s up to YOU. Where do you start? Small changes can make a big impact! Start by cleaning out your refrigerator and pantry. Get rid of the overly processed, salty and sugary foods and refined grains. Stock up on unsalted nuts, good olive oil and whole grain foods like farro, bulgur and brown rice, fresh fruits and vegetables. Have healthy foods easily accessible, cut up fruits and vegetables and have hard boiled eggs available to grab and go. Try to have 10 healthy recipes available as your go to meals. Planning your snacks and meals ahead of time can prevent over-eating and making unhealthy choices, making it much easier to stay on track. Here’s 20 tips for a 2020 healthier YOU!
- Get Moving. More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Exercise is not only good for your physical health but your mental health as well.
- Reduce your sodium intake. On average, US adults consume 3,400 mg/day of sodium, well above the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans which recommend less than 2,300 mg daily. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg.
- Reduce your added sugar intake. It’s not just the sugar you add, manufacturers are doing it too. Added sugars add calories to your diet while not providing you with any health benefits. The American Heart Association recommends that men should have no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar and women should have no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Being conscious of the amount of sugar in your food or beverage, is key.
- Watch your portion sizes. Try these tips to help you manage your portions. 3 oz is approximately the size of a deck of cards, ½ cup is approximately the size of the front of a clenched fist or ½ of a tennis ball, 1 cup is approximately the size of your fist, the tip of your finger is close to a teaspoon.
- Stay hydrated – Drink at least 8 – 8oz glasses of water per day. 60% of your body is water so staying hydrated is a very important part of staying healthy. It can help keep your gastrointestinal tract moving and prevent constipation. Not to mention it puts less strain on your kidneys – if you are dehydrated your kidneys must work harder to get the toxins out of your body. So drink up!
- Eat breakfast. Research shows that breakfast eaters are less likely to be overweight than those who skip it. If you do not eat breakfast you are more likely to grab high calorie, high sugar and fatty snacks.
- Consume more complex carbohydrates. Not only do complex carbohydrates contain fiber to help with the digestive tract, they are also nutrient packed. Complex carbohydrates are one of your body’s main source of energy. Many fad diets will try to persuade you to stay away from carbohydrates in order to lose weight. Just avoid simple carbohydrates like white bread, white pasta, fruit juice, soft drinks, and sweets. Instead eat the good carbohydrates like whole grain breads and pastas, starchy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruits.
- Try a new healthy food. Expanding your variety of food provides your body with new nutrients. If you try a new fruit or vegetable, you will get different phytochemicals which can help improve or maintain a healthy immune system. Also, by trying a new food, you are setting a good example for your children or grandchildren.
- Experiment with plant-based meals. Plant based foods may reduce the risk of cancer and may help prevent type 2 diabetes. They are filling and gives you the opportunity to be creative with your meal.
- Take your time eating meals. Eating slowly not only helps with weight control but it also helps improve digestion; by chewing each bite of food and pacing yourself this enables your stomach to digest smaller amounts of food at a time. Also, pacing yourself while eating allows you to feel your fullness which in turn may help you to eat fewer calories. Be mindful while eating.
- Reduce food waste. Reducing food waste has both economic and environmental gains.
- Eat at least one meal as a family per day. Eating a meal as a family gives you time during your busy day to stop and reconnect with your family members; it provides a sense of belonging.
- Make healthy choices when eating out. Before going to the restaurant look at the menu and figure out your meal ahead of time. That way you will be less likely to make an unhealthy choice. Avoid foods on the menu that have the words fried, pan-fried, battered and creamy.
- Cook more meals at home each week. By cooking at home, you are in control of what ingredients go into your food and how it is prepared. You are more likely to eat less calories and make healthier choices.
- Meal plan and prep meals for the week. By planning your meals ahead of time, you will be more likely to make healthier choices and have a well-balanced meal. If you don’t have your meals planned, when it is time to eat you will likely choose something that is convenient and not as healthy as if you were to make something.
- Try yoga or meditation to reduce stress. Reducing stress in your life is good for your mind, body and spirit. Decreased stress allows for more productivity, better immune function and it promotes longevity.
- Make half of your plate vegetables. Fill up on vegetables. By filling up on veggies you are less likely to overeat and eat extra calories.
- Prepare healthy snacks. Having healthy snacks already prepared makes it much easier to make healthy choices. If you have a healthy snack prepared you will be less likely to grab something that is not good for you because you are so hungry.
- Make annual wellness health visits to doctors. Prevention is the key to good health. It is better to catch something early than to find a health problem after it is too late.
- Get to a healthy weight. Being at a healthy weight puts you at less risk for developing many diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you want to lose weight reduce your intake of or burn 500-1,000 calories per day from your typical diet to lose 1-2 pounds per week. 1 pound of fat equals approximately 3,500 calories.
Sources: US Department of Health and Human Services, American Heart Association.
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