New Year, New You
Revolutionize your resolutions! Instead of the typical New Year’s resolutions, like lose weight, eat better, or exercise more, try the following lifestyle modifications for ultimate success.
Exercise makes you feel better and relieves stress. Make it part of your schedule and be realistic. If you can’t create a consistent routine, review your schedule at the start of each week and add exercise as you would any other appointment. If you have not been exercising, start slowly by increasing daily activity. Try using a pedometer, and aim for 10,000 or more steps per day.
Take time on the weekends (or when convenient) to plan meals for the week and grocery shop for meal ingredients. The easiest way to fall into unhealthy habits is to arrive at meals without a plan. Have healthy snacks on hand at home, in your purse and car, and at the office. That way, you have options for busy days. Going too long without eating can cause blood sugar levels to drop, which can lead to overeating and unhealthy food choices.
Balance Your Diet
A healthy diet contains protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Try to make protein a part of every meal along with complex carbohydrates, like whole grains and/or vegetables, and healthy fats, like olive oil, nuts, nut butters, seeds, and avocado.
Savor the Flavor
Take the time to enjoy your food. Practice mindful eating by slowing down and experiencing the taste. Mindless munching is a source of excess calories. Take a moment before you indulge to ask yourself if you are hungry and why you want that treat. If you aren’t hungry, try changing your environment by taking a walk or switching to a new task. Chewing gum has also been shown to reduce the desire to eat after meals.
Bulk Up (Your Diet That Is)!
Think real food! Visit the local farmers market to shop for fresh, local ingredients. Foods with high water and fiber contents, like vegetables and fruits, are filling. Make them the bulk of your diet. Fiber requires more chewing than other foods, and it therefore generates a sense of fullness. Since the brain is 20 minutes behind the stomach when registering feelings of fullness, this can help prevent overeating. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar, which regulates insulin levels and allows your body a constant fuel source that controls hunger.
Eat, Eat, and Eat Again!
Cravings are caused by drops in blood sugar levels, which occur when your body is starved for hours. After over 4 hours of not eating, low blood sugar levels can send you searching for simple carbohydrates (sugary foods). After eating simple carbohydrates, blood sugar levels spike, triggering the release of insulin (often in large amounts), which lowers blood sugar levels causing the body to crave again. By eating every 3 to 4 hours, blood sugar levels as well as eating patterns will stay consistent.
Make friends and/or family members aware of your intentions. They can help keep you accountable. Since every person’s nutritional needs are different, you may want to consult a registered dietitian for a personalized plan that works for you. Also try online support groups and phone apps that can help to keep you motivated.
Supplements are Not the Answer
There is no magic potion for lifestyle change. Try to make changes that you can maintain for life without relying on a supplement system that you are required to buy.
Small Steps Mean Success
Trying to change your entire life at once can backfire. Small, measurable goals help you to achieve success one step at a time.
Remember that mistakes happen. We all make mistakes. One meal does not define you. If you eat something unhealthy, make a commitment to make the next meal healthy and move on.
Forget the quick fix and commit to lasting change! You can do it!
Brown Bag It With Style
Lunch is often the same routine sandwich over and over. NOT Anymore! Now you can recreate the brown bag lunch into a healthy, gourmet feast that the whole family can look forward to. Use the following tips to guide you.
- Shop Wisely and Plan Ahead: Grocery shop for healthy lunch ingredients on days off or at the start of each week. Stock up on fruits and vegetables that can be eaten raw.
- Make It Exciting: Roasted and grilled foods add a lot of flavor. Grill or roast extra vegetables (onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, portabella mushrooms, asparagus) at dinner or on days off to add to your lunch. They taste delicious with goat cheese.
- Form a Healthy Lunch-Pool: Gather a group of co-workers (five people are best) to exchange lunches. Each person chooses a day to make lunch for the group. It's easier to make 5 of the same lunches at once than to make a different lunch each day. This will increase variety, and since eating healthy is important to the entire group, it will help everyone maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Pre-portion Snacks and Sides: Pre-made single serving packs are easy but often costly and lacking nutrition. You can pre-portion your own snacks using sealable plastic bags and even create a mix of your favorites. Try whole grain crackers, soy crisps, or if you have access to a microwave, 100 calorie packs of popcorn. You can make your own trail mix using whole grain cereal, nuts, and dried fruit.
- Avoid Soggy Bread:Moist vegetables or condiments can cause bread to become soggy before lunchtime so bag them separately then add them to a sandwich at lunch. Also, a large, dry lettuce leaf makes a great buffer between the bread and moist veggies or condiments.
- Get Creative with Condiments: We are all familiar with ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. For extra flavor and nutrition, explore new condiments to add to your sandwich. Options include hummus, ripe avocado or guacamole, spreadable goat cheese, and horseradish.
- Use Baby-Wipes: Pre-moistened wipes are great for cleaning messy hands and wiping your desk after eating. Keep a box at work for quick, easy clean up.
- Keep It Clean: Since bacteria can grow anywhere (especially in a moist environment), don’t forget to clean and dry your lunchbox or bag regularly.
- Keep It Cold: Although there are many different types of reusable ice packs, you can freeze water bottles instead, and let them thaw until lunch time. Keeping your food at the appropriate temperature is important to avoid food poisoning.
- Microwave Munchies: Having access to a microwave oven increases your lunch options. Plan your leftovers strategically by packing them in portions.
- Variety is the Spice of Life: The same old sandwich day after day can become boring. Try replacing bread with whole grain tortilla, pita, or even crackers for added crunch. Instead of deli meat, purchase a roasted chicken or try homemade egg or tuna salad for sandwiches. Get creative with your tuna salad by mixing in chopped celery and bell peppers, low fat cottage cheese, plain nonfat yogurt, and/or sliced grapes. Try a burrito with chicken, black beans, grilled vegetables, low fat cheese, and salsa. Lettuce and tomato are typical sandwich staples, but for variety, try arugula or fresh spinach and bell peppers. Mix up the proteins in salads by adding beans (black, kidney, garbanzo, edamame), eggs, and/or low fat cheese or cottage cheese. Nuts and seeds also add crunch and flavor.
- Get Your 7 – 9 Daily Servings: Fruits and vegetables are good for you. Fruit makes a great dessert as well as a quick, easy snack. Vegetables don’t always have to mean salad. Try raw veggies with a hummus or yogurt dip. Since they are loaded with flavor, grilled or roasted vegetables are great for snacking.
- Meet Nutrient Needs: Lunch is supposed to provide almost 1/3 of your daily nutrient requirements. Inadequate intake at lunch can leave you deficient for the day and lead to overeating later. Don’t skimp. Try to include color (veggies and fruits), protein, whole grains, and healthy fats.
De-Stress Your Table for a Healthy Weight
In addition to food and beverage choices, environment can have a major impact on healthy eating. The following ideas will help you improve your dining experience to stay slim.
· Eliminate distractions by turning off the computer, television, and cell phones during meals. Play soft, soothing music instead, and dine quietly and slowly. Making mealtime a relaxing experience aids digestion.
· Set the table so that it looks appealing. This makes dinner a special, enjoyable time.
· Fill your glass (with water that is). Drinking two cups of water before meals has been shown to promote weight loss. Make water your beverage of choice before and during meals.
· Have positive conversation and avoid negative comments and arguments. Savor each bite and enjoy each other’s company.
· Have only the vegetable serving dish on the table during meals. Keep all other serving dishes away from the table. Better yet, refrigerate any leftovers after each person fills his/her plate.
· Use smaller plates and utensils. Smaller plates mean smaller portions. Average plate size has increased from 9 to 14 inches over the past 50 years. Today’s typical American dinner plate used to be the serving “platter” for a family dinner. Try using the larger plate for salads and vegetables and the salad plate for proteins and carbohydrates. The same is true for utensils. By using smaller utensils, you will take smaller bites, which leads to slower eating and allows time for your body to register feelings of fullness.
Stay Healthy Together
Since more time is spent indoors during the winter, it is easier to catch viruses from others. By making some changes to your diet, you can be more prepared to fight the spread of germs and maintain energy levels through the winter months. Stay healthy as a family by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Follow the guidelines below to get started.
Eat A Rainbow every day. Make colorful eating a game by having each family member track the colors that they eat during the day. This makes nutrition fun and motivates everyone to eat fruits and vegetables. A little healthy competition doesn’t hurt either. Add a fun prize (not food) for the person with the most colorful diet.
Involve the entire family in meal planning and preparation. Kids are more likely to try something if they helped make it. This is a great way to introduce new foods and make them exciting.
Snack healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables make great snacks, especially when served with a tasty dip, like hummus, peanut butter, or yogurt.
Eat together. Family meals are important for development. Not only do they promote healthy eating habits and decrease the risk of obesity but they also improve social behaviors.
Play together. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity daily. Playing in the snow counts so get out there and build a snowman together.
Keep your family fit and healthy through the winter by making nutrition and exercise accessible and exciting.