Work Your Way Up to Your New Year’s Resolutions  

It’s a brand-new year– let alone an entirely new decade– and the “new year, new me” mentality is in full effect for most of us!

Whether you’re starting over at the beginning of the new year or tackling the resolutions you set for yourself at the end of last year, it’s likely that – like most people – you’re prioritizing improved fitness and nutrition.

If healthy nutrition is at the top of your list, think about making small, sustainable changes rather than making drastic changes that tend to be difficult to follow after a couple of days.  When you start small, you can build upon your successes, and work your way up to larger dietary changes to eventually achieve your goals.

Registered dietitian Susan Bowerman of Herbalife Nutrition shares five ways to build healthy habits into your eating routine for the new year.

Go for Nutrient Density. Nutrient-dense foods pack a lot of nutrition relative to their calorie count and can help guide your food choices.  For instance, if you’re trying to cut down on fat, reduce your intake of simple fats such as oils, butter and fried foods, rather than cutting out healthy fats like avocados or nuts.  Similarly, it’s a good idea to cut down on added sugar, but don’t omit nutrient-dense fruits. Fruits are a source of natural sugar but they also offer fiber which helps to fill you up, as well as vitamins and minerals which can help you meet your needs for these nutrients.

Try a New Fruit or Vegetable Once a Week. If you’re not ready to tackle a whole new food item, you can start slowly with a different variety of a familiar food. All fruits and vegetables are unique in terms of the healthy phytonutrients they provide, so variety is really important to your good health. If your salad is always made with iceberg lettuce, switch to deep green romaine or baby spinach instead. Try a new variety of cabbage or apple or cook some purple cauliflower instead of the usual white.

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 Start Making Healthy Food Swaps. Switching to the lower fat version of foods you eat frequently – such as salad dressings, spreads, dairy products, even desserts – can save you a lot of calories. A cup of whole milk has 150 calories and about 7 grams of fat; nonfat milk has 90 calories and no fat.

A switch from regular ground beef to ground turkey breast can cut about 10 grams of fat and 100 calories per 3-ounce serving. You’ll eat fewer calories and a lot less sugar if you buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit and sweetener instead of the pre-sweetened variety. You can also try replacing refined starches with whole grains like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole wheat bread and crackers, whole-wheat couscous, quinoa, and oatmeal.

Practice Your New Habits When You Eat Out. Most  Americans eat an average of four meals a week away in restaurants and consume more calories at these meals than they do at home.  So a few small tweaks can save you a lot of calories.  Take the edge off your appetite with a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts before you go out – it will help you avoid digging into the bread or chips before your meals starts.  Watch your liquid calories from alcohol and sweetened beverages (which often come with free refills).  If you’re with a group, try ordering before everyone else does.  It can help you stick to your eating plan without getting influenced by everyone else’s choices.

 Go Full Force. Once you start seeing and feeling results from the small changes you’ve started making, you should now feel ready to dive a little deeper into your new nutrition routine. You can plan to prepare more meals with your new favorite ingredients, use healthy supplementation in areas where you may need it (such as extra protein or vitamin D) and even incorporate a more challenging fitness routine to maximize your fitness or weight-loss goals.

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