Whether or not you’ve made a resolution or set an actual goal, many adults vow at the start of a new year to make some lifestyle changes to improve their health. Earlier this month we published a blog about walking your way to better health this year. Of course, exercise is important to enhancing your overall health, but developing and sticking to a healthy eating plan may be even more essential.
Now that the holidays are behind us there’s really no excuse not to look ahead and make this year a healthier one by following just a few simple tips.
Understand the WHY of eating healthy. Simply put, the foods you eat can have a big effect on your health and quality of life. Healthy eating can lower your risk for developing chronic diseases, help you maintain a healthy weight and increase your vitality and energy as you age.
Make a plan and stick to it. The rise in popular diets and diet trends can cause confusion. If one of those plans seems a good fit for you, get onboard and stick to it. But, remember that you don’t have to invest in an expensive eating plan. Healthy eating can be fairly simple with a little research and determination.
Make small changes every day. Making sudden, drastic changes to your diet can be overwhelming and oftentimes unsustainable. Instead, focusing on a small change or two at a time makes it easier to form new eating habits. Some areas of change might include:
- Eat more slowly
- Drink more water
- Cut back on sugar
- Try one new food or recipe each week
- Bake or roast instead of frying foods
Focus on whole foods. The term “whole foods” generally describes natural, unprocessed foods containing only one ingredient. Whole foods tend to be filled with nutrients and have fewer calories than processed foods. Examples of whole foods are fruits, vegetables, unsalted nuts and seeds, beans and whole grains.
Portion control. If your goal is to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. To do this, you’ll need to be mindful of your portion sizes. This doesn’t always mean tiny portions. Adding more whole and nutritious foods to your diet will help to keep your body feeling full. The importance of portion control comes in when eating higher calorie foods. Start downsizing your portions of higher calorie foods and add extra whole foods to help you feel more satisfied. For example, instead of eating 2-3 slices of pizza, have one slice accompanied with a large salad.
Don’t let the thought of healthy eating seem daunting. Completely overhauling your diet all at once can be a recipe for disaster. But by following the tips above and making a few small lifestyle changes at a time, you’ll be more successful in your healthy eating endeavors and feel better as you head into this new year.