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We all know someone, maybe even ourselves, who has vowed year after year to lose weight, get in shape, and be healthier. But how many people can say they achieved these lofty goals by the time January 1st rolls around again? Achieving health-based goals in the new year can sound daunting, and it may be tempting to start up that new gym membership or join that diet program you keep getting advertisements for. However, taking this approach to healthy eating in the new year is often not as fruitful as we expect it to be, and we find ourselves falling off the wagon halfway through the year.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of 7 simple, fool-proof healthy eating habits you can begin in the new year. Adding these behaviors to your daily routine will help you reach your wellness goals while fostering life-long healthy habits that make a lasting impact on your overall health.
Don’t skip breakfast. While it may be easy or even tempting to skip breakfast on busy mornings, it’s important that you resist the urge and eat something that is filling and nutritious. Eating breakfast helps boost your metabolism for the day, and may play a role in weight management. Breakfast also has positive effects on mood and energy. Choose breakfasts with protein and complex carbs, so you can get some fiber early in your day and not feel hungry an hour later. And keep in mind that breakfast does not have to be a time-consuming production each morning – something as simple as an apple and a hard-boiled egg could be a good option for those who are on the go early!
Aim for five servings of fruit and veggies per day. Eating enough fruit and vegetables can help you reach your healthy eating goals. These foods are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and are nutrient-dense while being lower in calories – this means you can eat more, and feel fuller longer. Prep or buy pre-washed and cut veggies for a snack that’s easy to pack on the go. Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried goods can all help you reach your five serving goal. If fruits and/or veggies aren’t your thing, consult a registered dietitian to learn ways to “sneak” these into your recipes.
Don’t skip snacks or meals. Skipping snacks and meals when we’re hungry can be a recipe for disaster. Those who skip meals and snacks have been shown to be more likely to binge or overeat later, as well as have a harder time managing blood sugars and be more prone to energy crashes. Be prepared with pre-packed healthy snacks like yogurt, fruit and vegetables, pretzels and cheese, etc so you don’t find yourself suffering from the mid-day slump. Try to eat every 4 to 5 hours, or whenever you begin to feel hungry.
Give meal prepping a try. Always find yourself ordering lunch at work or visiting the vending machines often? Try meal prepping lunches and snacks to take with you during the week. This will ensure you always have a nourishing and satisfying meal to eat and will help you rely less on last-minute fast food stops. Meal prepping can also be more cost-effective because you don’t need to worry about unexpected meals out, and you only buy what you need each week. Meal prepping has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress as you don’t need to come up with meal ideas last minute or worry about eating foods that don’t fit into your “diet” or routine.
Reduce your sugar-sweetened beverage intake. Swap out at least one soda, energy drink, sugary coffee, or juice each day for an equivalent serving of water. Drinking more water is not only good for your caloric intake, but it can also help give you more energy, keep your organs functioning optimally, and manage your weight. Drink plain water, water with 0 sugar flavoring, water seltzer, or tea.
Eat more complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are carbs that have sugar molecules in longer, more complex chains, making them harder for the body to break down. They include whole grains such as barley, rye, oats, buckwheat, and whole wheat bread and pastas. They also include fruits and vegetables, brown rice, beans, peas, and lentils. These carb sources are higher in fiber as well as vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium, and magnesium. They play a role in managing blood sugar levels and helping maintain a healthy weight. Try to make at least half of your total carbohydrate intake come from whole grain and complex sources. Complex carbs can also be meal prepped ahead of time and used throughout the week.
Give up the fad diets. If there is one thing to say about fad diets, it’s that they simply do not work. Rather than buying into fad diets that promise you quick fixes but don’t deliver, focus this year on eating a balanced and nourishing diet. There is no need to cut entire food groups out of your diet, or restrict yourself from eating the foods you love! Speak with a registered dietitian to learn more about how to stop dieting and start enjoying food again.
Nourished Routes is a nutrition consulting company located in Nashville, TN. They help their clients implement a highly personalized whole foods nutrition approach so that they can enjoy food again and achieve a sense of empowerment and food freedom while feeling nourished and ultimately live their best lives.