Ahhhh tis the season for trying to work out those New Year’s Resolutions, and pay penance for all of our dietary indiscretions over the holidays. Instead of pledging to lose 10 pounds or making ridiculous resolutions that you know will only last a few weeks. Instead why don’t you focus on the bigger picture of your health and happiness. So here is a list of things to maybe try in 2014. You can try 1 or 5, or 10, or all of them. But remember the thing with resolutions and making changes- you want to do things that will stick, and be part of your lifestyle indefinitely. Pick things you like, and enjoy and if need be modify them. And make changes slowly rather than try to do everything all at once.
1) Do a pantry/fridge purge.
Check your expiration and use by dates – and throw the stuff out that has been sitting in your fridge door for the last 18 months. Then reassess if you really need to buy more. Do you really need 8 different types of salad dressing? I didn’t think so. In fact instead of replacing the salad dressing make your own. Olive oil + vinegar + lemon juice = salad dressing. You can also buy flavored olive oils and vinegars.
In fact here is a little recipe for some salad dressing that I found on Instagram from someone I follow:
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar (please note that if you are pregnant you should get pasteurized)
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Honey
1 pinch black pepper
**Shake until well combined, and store in the refrigerator
I make a big batch, and use it on salads and meats. This is seriously one of the best things I have come across on social media. Here is the original recipe from @Healthy_Italian (instagram)
2) Read your labels, and learn to understand what they mean
You may view a written explanation here
But seriously know how to read a food label, and for that matter learn how to read an ingredients list. The serving size is king understanding that is kind of the key to label reading In terms of an ingredients list remember what is listed first that product contains the most of. Also hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oil = trans fat.
3) Follow the plate method for at least two meals a day
Thinking about what my protein, fats, carbs, and veggies are really helps me when I put my meals together. For lunch and dinner I typically follow the plate to make it easier. Fortunately at my job there is a salad bar so getting my veggies in for lunch isn’t difficult. And let’s be honest carbs are the easiest thing to add in. For breakfast this coming year I am going to try to be more creative with how I can add veggies into all three meals!
4) Eat vegetables…daily…multiple times
I get why people don’t like veggies- I really do. I had the realization in grad school that I did not like a lot of vegetables. So for the past 3 years I have steadily experimented and added new veggies in my diet and became comfortable with cooking them more.
The thing is with veggies – they are high in nutrients and fiber, they are low in calories. Keep your selections colorful, and remember Potatoes, Peas & Corn are starchy- all others are non-starchy.
5) Make promises to yourself….and keep them!
I have found that many times people focus on what they need to do – but get caught up in that- and forget how those goals actually benefit them- and eventually break those promises to themselves. But when you resolve to do something to better yourself keep in mind the big picture- whether it is weight loss, fitness, or finances. Don’t just focus on the goals itself, but how it will make you happier.
6) Make your fitness a priority
Fitness and physical activity- across the board – are natures helpers for just about any health malady you can think of: weight/blood pressure/diabetes/heart health/mood & depression/sleep. I challenge you to workout at a moderate intensity 3-4 days a week, and be able to say you don’t feel better- whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally or all of the above.
I like to think of physical activity as nature’s “cure all.
7) Try some Kefir/Get some Probiotics in
Ok. So this is semi-optional but I recommend it. Probiotics are another natural helper. There is an already significant (but it is growing) evidence base touting the effectiveness and helpfulness of probiotics. Probiotics help keep the good bacteria in your gut happy- this promotes better digestion, healthier weight, and overall less bloating and better regularity.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be Kefir- you can do certain yogurts, but I am a fan of just taking a few quick shots of Kefir in the morning.
8) Find some healthy snacks
Assess your snack situation. It’s one thing to have a candy bar, or chips once every few weeks. It’s another thing if those items make up a daily part of your calorie intake it may service you to make some simple swaps. For snacks I recommend a carb and protein, or a veggie and a protein – or all of the above. Some of my favorite snacks:
-Hard boiled egg filled with guac or hummus + clementine
-Cheese + almond crackers
-2 Clementines + string cheese
-Apple + peanut butter
9) Learn how to expedite your meal planning/preparing
I can’t tell you how many times I hear that people just buy fast food because they are too tired to cook for themselves. Hey I get it. But there are ways to speed this process up.
Pinterest is a great way- you can find pins on pins on pins that show you how to make 1 grocery list, but make 5+ different meals.
I also really rely on the frozen section of my Marianos. I buy a lot of frozen meats, and veggies, and I always have a starch on hand (rice, pasta, potatoes). That way on any given night I can defrost a protein, and cook veggies and a starch. 9 times of out 10 I can do this within 30 minutes.
Also keep basic staples on hand in your kitchen: frozen chicken, fish, spinach, potatoes (any variety), olive oil, herbs, and spices, lemons, oranges, liquid aminos (this a fantastic substitute for using soy sauce), vinegar, plain greek yogurt , celery, & red onions. Those are some of my essentials anyways.
10) Don’t skip your meals
Just because you skip a meal DOES NOT mean you will necessarily save on calories. In fact you are more likely to take in just as many if not more calories by meal skipping. Even if you aren’t super hungry when it is time for a meal have something light. Nuts, and fruit (no not trailmix), hard-boiled eggs, yogurt etc
11) Learn about what you are at risk for in terms of health/disease, and figure out what you can do about it
I’m not going to talk extensively about healthcare. But what you should know about- as that at this day and age that its is less expensive to try to understand what you are at risk for in terms of health problems, and try to take preventative measures well-before these “health risks” become a “health problem”.
For example – I have a super significant family history of heart disease. So… I pay really close attention to getting in physical activity, watching my salt & fat intake. Remember you cannot change your genetics, but you can change what you do, and do not do- (smoking, physical inactivity, diet, etc)
12) Try a 1 new vegetable & fruit each month
Or at least a new way to eat favorite veggies & fruits if you already eat a lot.
Here is a nice little jump start to get you started compliments of cooking light! I love trying new recipes – Cooking Light is always packed with ideas and ways to use produce, and give ideas how to shop in season (shopping in season also saves cash-money too)
Also here is an idea for uses for leftover Pineapple Rinds compliments of Dole!
13) Ditch the idea of fast weight loss/miracle products
This also includes getting your nutrition and health information from credible sources: dietitians, health professionals with advanced degrees in nutrition, and physicians who specialize in nutrition. But your average doctor likely does not have a significant background in nutrition.
Additionally when contemplating weight loss you didn’t gain 20 lbs in one month. So do not expect to lose 20 lbs in one month either. Diets that promise fast weight loss, or products that tout themselves as being a cure-all- are NEVER going to be what they are cracked up to!
Take a peak at this guide to help you maneuver through nutrition information.
14) Incorporate healthy fats in the right amount
Foods that contain healthy fats are considered NUTRIENT DENSE- this means that a little bit goes a really long way. SO to add in your healthy fats, incorporate things like avocados, tuna, salmon, walnuts, & almonds. Here is the thing though- you don’t need excessive amounts of these things to get the benefit in. A serving of walnuts is 1 cup, and a serving of almonds is a 1/2 cup. Because these items contain fat (even the healthy kind) they comes with more calories. So if you are taking in an entire bag of almonds you will likely easily exceed 800-1000 calories.
15) Check your fiber intake
Ok. Fiber is our natural “drano” it helps us stay regular, but in addition it makes us feel fuller longer, and faster, it is heart healthy. Fiber is going to come from whole grains (brown rice, barley, whole wheat), berries, fruit with skin (apples, pears), legumes (lentils, beans, peas, almonds, and sunflower seeds/kernels), and vegetables in general. Here is a great link from Mayo Clinic to outline how much fiber you can get for 1 serving of something.
3 g of fiber is considered a “good source”
5 g (or more) of fiber is considered an “excellent source”
Historically Americans in general do not get enough fiber (on average 12-15 g/day)- Ideally you should be getting anywhere from 25-35 g of fiber/day. But please believe that you DO NOT want to start out trying to get 35 g fiber – and as you increase fiber intake – you will want to make sure you are drinking enough water.
I hope you enjoyed the first half of things to try, or at least consider for 2014. Please stay tuned for my follow up!
What are some things you are contemplating for 2014??
What are some of your goals for 2014?