Nutrition Director of Chamberlin’s Natural Foods, Mary Ann O’Dell gives us helpful tips to one of the most common new year resolutions, achieving healthier eating habits.
We hear it every year at this time: the mantra to eat healthy and exercise. But what does eating healthy look like? We all know we are supposed to eat more fruits and vegetables, but do we? And is that all there is to it? The reality is, a healthy diet looks different for each of us. Between diets, lifestyle choices, body types, and personal convictions, the diet landscape continues to change and grow. So here are my top five tips for making healthy choices in the new year.
- Try it before you diet. If you choose to try a new diet, give it at least four weeks before you decide if it is or is not working for you. Mediterranean Diet, Whole 30 Diet, Keto Diet, and Vegan Diet are just a few of the many popular diets being followed today. In the new year, people often choose to try a new diet, whether it is for health or weight loss. Be sure that the diet you choose is not so restrictive that it can compromise your health. Every diet mentioned above can be healthy if followed properly. A good diet can become a lifelong lifestyle change if you feel better on that diet…and that can take time to get the full experience of good health.
- Upgrade your diet with plant-based foods. Eating more plant-forward is a current trend that is good for everyone! This does not necessarily mean you must eat vegetarian or vegan every day, but it does mean actively adding more plant-based foods to your daily diet. A plant-based diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and beans. Adding these foods will boost antioxidant status, fiber and nutrient intake, and may result in a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Easy ways to make changes now:
Add veggies to your eggs in the morning.
Use a plant protein instead of whey protein in your smoothie.
Make a meal out of salad – include lean meat or tofu, but also load it up with extra colorful veggies and legumes.
3. Spice up your Food. So much research has come out on the benefits of a variety of common spices that are likely in your spice cabinet. Ginger, common in Asian foods, is a tonic for your stomach. Turmeric, the main spice in curry powder, has anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic, one of the most well-researched herbs, is great for the heart and the immune system. And the uses here are endless! Easy ways to make changes now:
Season foods with an all-purpose herb and sea salt blend. This adds flavor but cuts down on the amount of salt you actually use.
Try adding garlic and curry powder to roasted vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower.
Add some ginger and cinnamon to your morning fruit smoothie.
4. Make good choices for on-the-go. Let’s face it. Most of us eat out for lunch, often several times a week. If packing a lunch is not the best option for you, then choose wisely when you do eat out. Most places have some options that are healthier, but you have to be willing to order them. Easy ways to make changes now:
Skip fries and have fruit or salad instead.
Order a plant-based burger option.
If you need something on-the-go, find a source for pre-made fresh salads with whole-food ingredients. If you understand all of the ingredients, it’s probably a good option!
5. Indulge with quality, not quantity. If all this healthy eating makes you crave something decadent, then give yourself the liberty to indulge in something that meets your diet criteria but satisfies that craving. The key here is that this is a special treat, so it is not something you consume daily or even weekly. And because it is special, go for quality ingredients. For example, instead of purchasing a container of ice cream, stop and get one scoop of premium ice cream. If you are on a diet, find a good quality dark chocolate to enjoy a couple of squares. Take time to slowly enjoy it. Consuming less of a quality treat will help eliminate guilt, and leave you feeling satisfied.