At the stroke of midnight on December 31, millions of Americans will resolve to start eating better and /or lose those extra pounds they are carrying around. But within a few days or weeks, most will have given up.
This year, take a systematic approach to those nutrition-related resolutions. Instead of resolving to “eat better and lose weight,” set one resolution for each month throughout the year. This can improve the chance that your resolutions are kept and that they actually turn into new and healthy habits.
Reduce your intake of artery-clogging saturated fat by switching from whole milk and dairy products to low-fat or nonfat milk and dairy products. This includes sour cream, yogurt, cheeses, and canned milk as well as whole milk.
Increase your intake of fruits to two to three servings a day. Make it as easy to reach for a piece of fruit as it is to reach for a cookie by keeping a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter. Use canned or dried fruits for snacks on the go. Eat vitamin C-rich fruit like oranges, strawberries, or kiwi every day.
Increase your intake of vegetables to three to five servings a day. 3 to 4 times a week, choose dark green, deep yellow and orange vegetables such as romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
Instead of high fat, high sugar snacks, choose foods like whole-grain crackers, low-fat popcorn, pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn cakes, and graham crackers. Of course, fruits and veggies are excellent choices as well.
Reduce your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol by eating at least one meatless meal each week. Plan menus that include pasta dishes, bean dishes, whole-grain bread, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Baked potatoes are easy to make and can function as the entree. Vegetarian chili is another option.
Limit your intake of sodium. Choose “low salt” or “no salt added” versions of foods such as crackers, nuts, canned vegetables, soups, and soy sauce. Use less salt in cooking, and don’t add salt to food at the table.
Reduce your intake of fat by limiting fried foods to once a week or less. This includes fried meats, French fries, fried cheese, chips, grilled sandwiches, cheese curls, and fried vegetables.
Boost your fiber intake by starting the day with a bowl of high fiber cereal. Look for cereals that have at least 4 grams of fiber per serving. Increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains will also help increase your fiber intake.
Reduce your risk of osteoporosis by including good sources of calcium in your diet. Lowfat or nonfat milk or yogurt are the best sources of calcium. However, foods like leafy green vegetables, figs, beans, and salmon and sardines with the bones are good sources as well.
Eat fish at least twice a week. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, and herring contain omega-3 fatty acids which appear to reduce the risk of heart disease.
As the holiday season approaches, begin practicing low-fat cooking techniques. Look for ways to modify your favorite recipes to lower the fat and calorie content. Attend healthy cooking classes that may be offered at hospitals in your area.
The holiday season is upon you. Try to maintain your weight by sticking to a consistent exercise schedule and limiting high-calorie foods. As you look back over the previous, you will have now developed 12 new healthy eating habits to make you healthier in the upcoming year.
By Beth Fontenot, MS, RD.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.