Every year people start out with New Year’s Resolutions, hopes and promises of a healthy and happy new year. Many resolve to start a “diet and exercise” program. As we all know, most New Year’s Resolutions fall by the way side after 2-3 weeks. Life gets in the way and people resume old habits. Here are my tips on how to get around this and stay healthy in 2018 and for your lifetime.
- Make a New Year’s wish. This year my family and I made wishes for everyone. Mine was for health and happiness for my family. How we go about achieving this health and happiness is up to us to choose every day that we wake up and face the world. It can change each day as long as we continue to work towards health and happiness.
- Instead of diet, plan to change your nutritional lifestyle. This is long term, and something that you can continually work on. The word diet suggests that it is temporary. “I will eat this way so I can lose weight and then will go back to my usual habits”. Then when we mess up, we tend to think “I can’t do this, I already slipped, never mind”. As soon as we slip up one time, we decide we failed and stop trying. A lifestyle change allows us to acknowledge the occasional mistake but keeps us moving forward because there are no set timelines, it’s forever, so we can keep working on it. Having a bad day? Eating that sweet treat? Fine, acknowledge that you needed this and why, try to figure out a healthier way to handle that urge for the next time, make sure your next meal is healthier, and keep going. Nutritional lifestyle changes also allow you to make small tweaks to your diet as you move forward which is easier to adjust to, rather than it having to be an all or nothing approach.
- When thinking healthy nutritional lifestyle changes, consider swapping out your prepackaged foods and processed foods for whole foods. Sounds hard I know as we often have to eat on the run. If you need something quick, look to something like Teddy’s Meal Tubes (TM) or a Larabar that is nutritional and portable, or prebag snacks like nuts to keep on you at all times. Store some in your car, your purse, your pockets, so you don’t get “hangry”. If you are somewhere without those snacks and need something, try to find an item with the least amount of ingredients. Removing the preservatives and the fillers is a big step towards healthy eating. A lot of “diet foods” have hidden sugars, sodium, unhealthy fats, and so called “natural flavors” that will derail your healthy plans, cause sugar cravings, and can make you even hungrier 10 minutes later.
- Learn to read those ingredients on labels, understand what they mean. There are so many different names for sugar and sugar substitutes, as well as other unhealthy preservatives and fillers like mineral oil, food dyes, natural flavors, and food additives. Know what you are eating. Look at both the actual ingredients as well as the nutritional facts. Do you know that some companies opt not to put the actual amount of sugar grams in the nutritional facts? One company, when asked, stated that if it is less than 5g of sugar, they are not required to list it in the facts. Make sure to read everything. Know what you are putting in your body.
- Speaking of sugar, the best recommendation I have is to cut sugar out of your diet! I don’t mean the sugar coming from fruits and vegetables, I mean the added sugars. Although the obvious sugars include cookies, cakes, and sodas, the less obvious are high fructose corn syrup, tapioca syrup, honey, agave, maple syrup, fruit juices, or the sugars that sneak into the processed foods. Try to keep those added sugars to less than 24 grams or 6 teaspoons a day. Anything more than that will impact your blood sugar which can lead to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and non-alcoholic fatty liver syndrome.
- Stick to natural sweeteners, like the ones I just mentioned, if you need them, keeping it less than the 24g a day, rather than turning to artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners have been shown to have a negative impact on your brain, keep your sugar cravings at all time highs, and don’t fill you up causing you to eat or drink more of the sweetener containing food or drink. Personally, I like an all natural stevia.
- Eat your fruit, don’t drink it. When you juice, you remove all the nutrients from the fruit, leaving just the sugar. Having a glass of OJ is like having an IV of sugar go straight into your blood system. You are missing the fiber that helps to slow down the absorption of the sugar, giving your body time to adjust to its presence and send it where it needs to go. Drinking your fruit all causes you to miss out on the all important task of masticating your food.
- When grocery shopping, make sure to shop the perimeter of the store. That is where you will find your whole nutrition, your vegetables, fruits, dairy, eggs, and meats. The center aisles contain the prepackaged processed foods whereas the perimeter contains the healthy, natural, whole foods that you can eat plain or use to make healthy meals.
- Exercise is very important to your health. Although it only accounts for 20% of your weight loss whereas nutrition accounts for 80%, exercise keeps your muscles like your heart and your bones strong and healthy. Take daily walks or runs. Use weight resistance to improve your muscle strength. Find a great HIIT class to keep your body using energy for up to 24 hours post work-out. Just keep moving.
- Remember to take your vitamins and minerals. In this day and age, many, if not all of us, are deficient in some sort of vitamins. In our part of the world, we are missing Vitamin D. We do not see enough sun, which is the best source to create the amount of Vitamin D that we need. The best source of all vitamins and minerals comes from food and sun. If you can’t get the quantity and quality you need, first find out why, perhaps you are not able to absorb it from food due to an ailment that you are not aware of. If there is no underlying health reason, then look for safe, pure, vitamin and mineral supplements. Make sure they are clean and not made with added sugar and fillers.
That is it in a nutshell, have a goal to make a nutritional lifestyle change, learning new habits such as eating whole foods, shopping the perimeter of the store, remove unnecessary sweeteners from your food, keep your body moving, and make sure you have the vitamins and minerals you need.