According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology at the University of Scranton, two of the top five New Year’s resolutions involve losing weight and becoming healthier. Many people wait until the new year to start their resolutions. For many, the idea of a new year implies a fresh start. Who said that you have to wait until January 1st to start your journey toward a healthier you? There are lots of reasons why starting your resolutions today may be more beneficial than putting them off another month. Follow these 3 easy tips to jumpstart your wellness goals today!
1. Eat More Fruits and Veggies
The minimum recommendation for a daily intake of fruits and vegetables is 5-9 servings. Try to achieve this through a variety of colors, flavors and cooking methods. For example, vary the fruits you choose and try veggies raw, steamed, roasted or stir-fried to avoid boredom. Many of the most powerful and effective nutrients are found in fruits and veggies with the boldest colors – think broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, grapes, leafy greens, and oranges. If you need ideas for how to add more fruits and veggies into your daily diet, try making smoothies at home, snacking on veggies with hummus or guacamole between meals, use lettuce instead of tortillas for sandwiches and tacos, and munch on dehydrated fruit instead of chips.
2. Cut Down on Added Sugar
Most Americans consume a large amount of processed, highly-refined foods in comparison to fresh, whole foods. Processed foods tend to be higher in calories, additives (like sugar and sodium) and lower in nutrients. Try adding more whole grain options, fresh fruits and veggies and legumes (beans) into your meals. This will help you naturally cut down on added sugar and increase fiber consumption, therefore keeping you fuller, longer. Some tips to avoid the sugar temptation include ditching the soda for water or sparkling water, choosing fruit canned in water or natural juice, adding fresh fruit to cereal or oatmeal instead of brown sugar, and reading food labels to pick the products with the lowest amounts of added sugars. Ideally, less than 10% of total daily calories should come from added sugars. There are many tips to try when looking to cut down on sugar in baking as well. Swap in extracts – like almond, vanilla, orange, or lemon – instead of sugar, cut the amount of sugar by 1/3-1/2 in many recipes and watch your intake of artificial sweeteners as well. If your goal is to lose weight, a temporary fix to satisfying your sweet tooth may lead to overindulging later.
3. Drop the dichotomous thinking
Dichotomous thinking, commonly referred to as “black and white” thinking, involves labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” This is something we want to avoid doing as the guilt associated with consuming “bad” foods or “cheating” can affect our relationship with food in a very negative way. Moderate enjoyment of foods and treats that bring you comfort will not affect your overall picture of health. A healthy approach to eating should be centered around eating to satisfaction (not fullness), focusing on flavor, and following a mindful eating pattern rather than focusing on weight.
Don’t Go It Alone
Wellness goals come in many forms. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, lower cholesterol, consume less added sugar, or want to eat more fruits and veggies, any type of lifestyle change can be somewhat daunting. The key is to not go it alone. Find a support group or seek the help of a professional nutrition coach. I’d encourage anyone that is about to embark on a new health mission to meet with me for a free nutrition consultation. We’ll discuss your wellness goals and create a realistic course of action.Schedule a Nutrition Consultation
Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian
Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.