Each new year is a clean slate, a time to think about making positive changes, setting goals, and starting anew. Many New Year’s resolutions include improving health through weight loss and exercise. To make 2018 your healthiest year yet, you don’t have to diet. In fact, a healthy eating pattern should not feel like a diet that’s boring and restrictive. You’re more likely to stick to a healthy way of life if your plan is enjoyable, realistic, and fits into your life naturally.
The good news is that small steps toward a healthier lifestyle can help you make a big difference in your overall health. Focus on eating more healthy foods that you enjoy, instead of spending time and energy excluding “bad” foods that you can’t have. If you are eating more nutrient-rich foods, they will fill you up and naturally edge out the less healthy foods.
Make exercise a habit. Just like any other important appointment, put exercise on your calendar or to-do list. Set goals that are realistic and measurable. If your long-term goal is to go to the gym four days each week, start with two or three days each week for a month, then slowly ramp up to your goal. Try partnering with a family member or friend to get more active so that you can encourage each other and keep each other accountable.
To help you snack in a healthy way, have healthy snacks around. We tend to eat the foods that are easy-to-prepare and more visible in our kitchens. Have a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter, and have washed and trimmed fresh veggies where you can easily see them in your refrigerator, so you will turn to them when you are hungry instead of less nutritious options. Create a healthy snack bag to take with you on the go, so that you don’t end up at convenience stores or drive-throughs when you get hungry. You might want to pack healthy foods such as granola bars, nuts and dried fruits, and water.
Replace sugary drinks with water, or try seltzer to jazz things up. Sugary drinks do not offer any valuable nutrients, and their calories can add up quickly. To make water tastier, you can add slices of lemons, limes, oranges, cucumber, or some berries. Staying well-hydrated is crucial to staying healthy and helps every system in your body function properly.
Don’t forget to watch your portions. Filling up half your plate with fruits and vegetables is one trick to keep your portions in check, and it helps you increase fruits and vegetables in your diet for more fiber and good health. Focus on eating a healthy, protein-rich breakfast to get the day started off right. You can enjoy a glass of milk with an egg and toast or some fruit-topped overnight oatmeal to give you the energy you need to start your day.
You can be a healthier you in 2018. Being perfect is not the goal. Focus on enjoying the food you eat and the activities you choose to do. Make gradual changes by setting realistic goals to help you feel successful and make your New Year’s resolutions part of your healthy way of life.