As we enter the new year, many of us are feeling a little bigger and maybe more sluggish than when we entered the Holiday season. Perhaps we ate just a few too many cookies or too many helpings of green bean casserole. Maybe we were just too busy to exercise. Whatever the case may be, here are a few tips on getting the new year off to a good start.
1. Choose good food habits. Select one bad habit you would like to change and replace it with a good habit. Maybe try less soda/pop and drink more water. Or eat less chips and increase whole grains. Perhaps the habit could include eating meals at regular times. Commit to changing one thing for at least a month or two. Once you’ve changed your habit, it won’t take much self-control to maintain.
2. Try to eat 6-8 fruits and vegetables a day. If you normally only eat 1-2 servings, slowly increase your intake so it doesn’t become a drastic change in order to help fruits and veggies be a part of your regular diet. Of course, adding 6-8 servings is ok to start right away also.
3. Increase fiber to 25-30 g. per day. Eat foods such as whole grains, sprouted grains, beans, nuts, seeds and fruits and vegetables to help get adequate fiber intake. Proper fiber intake helps with weight loss, blood sugar regulation, and prevention of constipation, diarrhea, and other bowl problems.
4. Commit to eating less processed, packaged, canned or boxed foods.Select foods from the outer isles of the grocery store. Use fresh foods in your cooking. If you cook only one or two days a week, try to cook four. If you cook four, try to cook six. This will help you take control of what you eat and the ingredients that you consume.
5. Aim to exercise at least 30 minutes per day. This could include a walk with a friend, swimming, playing tag with kids or grandkids, go for a hike, watch an exercise video, shovel snow or crank up the music and dance, just to name a few. Make the exercise something fun that you will look forward to doing. If the exercise is something that is just added to your list or not enjoyable, you will be more likely to put it off.
6. Limit your sugar intake. The American Heart Association recommends that the sugar intake for adult women is 5 teaspoons (20 grams) of sugar per day, for adult men, it’s 9 teaspoons (36 grams) daily, and for children, it's 3 teaspoons (12 grams) a day. Sugar doesn't contribute nutritionally to our diets but adds many added calories that can lead to excess weight and obesity.