With every new year come those resolutions to turn away from bad habits and get a fresh start. Eating more sensibly is usually at the top of the list, especially after all that holiday splurging that has gone on since Thanksgiving. Luckily, eating nutritious foods and living a healthier lifestyle doesn’t require a miracle diet or a drastic plan of action. All it takes is making a few simple positive choices each day. Here are a few easy steps to put you on the right track to a healthier 2019. Put a rainbow on your plate.
When you choose foods in a variety of colors, you’re almost guaranteed to get the right mix of fruits and vegetables to meet your nutritional needs. Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are abundant in vitamin C and A. Green vegetables like kale and spinach are rich in vitamins K, B and E. And purple selections like eggplant, cabbage and grapes are high in vitamins C and K. And don’t forget the browns—always leave room on your plate for some whole grains.
Eat mindfully and you’ll enjoy every bite.
Always be “present” when you’re eating. Concentrate on enjoying the meal and also the people around you. When you eat while distracted (while watching TV, for example) you tend to eat more and enjoy it less. Try to practice portion control; when you are savoring each bite of your food and stop when you are no longer hungry, you won’t have to go back for seconds. Here’s a hint: always eat from a plate and not from a bag. That bag is usually full of an unhealthy portion of snacks or a dose of high-fat, high salt fast food.
Drinking water can sometimes quench your appetite for between-meal snacks. Also, eating fruit can help you fill up since it is high in fiber and has plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks however, like fruit juices and sodas. Regular sodas are loaded with high fructose syrup and empty calories.
Put exercise on the menu.
It’s amazing what daily physical activity can do to help nutritious meals do their job in keeping your body and your mind healthy. Moderate exercise doesn’t just burn calories. It also improves cardiovascular health, helps reduce stress and inflammation, builds muscle mass and aids in maintaining balance. Try to get in 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day, at least five times per week. And exercise can be as simple as a quiet stroll, climbing some stairs, doing some gardening, or just bending and stretching during TV commercials.
Get plenty of sleep each night.
What does sleep have to do with diet and nutrition? A lot it turns out. Chronic lack of sleep causes increases in a hormone known to increase appetite, which can lead to overeating. Research has also shown that sleep-deprived subjects are more susceptible to junk food and other unhealthy choices.
Take it easy on yourself.
If you occasionally slip from your plan to make healthier choices, don’t beat yourself up. Remember you’re only human. Tomorrow offers you another chance to enjoy a delicious day filled with nutritious food, stimulating exercise and the companionship of friends and family.