Alas, it’s nearly 2017…
The holidays make us all sentimental and reflective. We think of our families, our personal and professional aspirations and, for some of us, our life’s purpose. As the New Year beckons, we ask ourselves, “What can I do to make the next year better?”
For many people, prioritizing their health and wellbeing tops the list.
Making fundamental lifestyle changes is difficult, especially when it comes to food.
And, for most of us, this means mentally rewiring a lifetime of bad habits.
The New Year is a great opportunity, the perfect time to fulfill resolutions – not just for 2017…for a lifetime. The indulgent, stressful holiday season is almost over and soon everyone will be back to their normal daily routine.
Come January 1st you have no more excuses – make the decision to be healthier in 2017 and act upon it!!!
When it comes to a healthy diet, planning and self-control is critical. I don’t believe in all-or-nothing diets, especially ones that rule out major food categories (with the exception of food allergies and intolerances). Proper nutrition comes from a broad spectrum of food groups. To train your body and mind to a lifestyle change in your eating habits, you must learn to eat normal, everyday food – not subside on highly processed, unnatural food alternatives like protein bars, shakes and supplements. To truly succeed at any long-term healthy eating plan, you must also be consistent, yet not dogmatic.
The fundamentals, tips and strategies…
- Start with moderation – 80% nutritious food; 20% careful indulgence. For most, this option works best because they are not denying themselves any particular food group. Food is central to our social and cultural habits; a zero-tolerance approach is not sustainable.
- Eat breakfast at home – steer clear of the drive thru and takeaways. The food is laden with empty calories and often come from subpar food sources. Eating a healthy breakfast helps control your blood sugar and food cravings throughout the day.
- Pack your lunch – bringing your own food to work, even healthy snack options, is paramount. Avoid the pitfalls of oversized cafeteria and restaurant portions, which, like breakfast, are high in non-nutritious calories. Food prepping works well for most people. I prefer variety, so I keep on hand different healthy options for my child’s lunch and myself.
- Don’t drink your daily calorie intake – skip the frappuccino, averaging 400-700+ purely indulgent and high in fat/sugar calories per serving. This is a liquid dessert – not a sustainable daily food option.
- Identify healthy foods you do enjoy – forcing yourself to eat food you cannot stand for dieting sake is absurd. Most people fail at healthy eating because they don’t enjoy the food. Figure out what nutritious foods you do like and go from there. Later on, you can expand your food choices.
- Experiment with new foods – perhaps you’re not keen on vegetables, yet you’ve never tried leeks, kale or butternut squash. Expanding your food repertoire is key to adding healthy, nutrient-dense foods into your daily regimen.
- Limit your alcohol intake – that daily glass of wine (or two) is sabotaging your diet. Alcohol has variable nutritional value, which is negligible due to its high sugar and carb content. Reserve your favorite drink for weekends and special occasions only.
- Modify your favorite meals – altering your recipes to include healthier ingredients is actually very simple – e.g. utilizing ground flax seeds or ripe bananas in place of butter; pureeing veg into your casserole or chili; exchanging protein-rich nut flours for overly processed white flour.
- Cook larger batches of your staple foods – this is a no-brainer. Make extra portions of your healthy meals and freeze individual and family portions for a quick, easy lunch or dinner option when you’re pressed for time.
- Read labels or, better yet, eat whole foods in their natural state – if you must buy packaged food, then get into the habit of reading labels to avoid hidden additives and excessive sugar and sodium content. A much healthier option is to eat whole foods – 90% or more of your daily intake – in their natural state. Keep food simple and pure.
- Eat to live, not live to eat – food is meant to be enjoyed, yet, more importantly, it’s meant to fuel our bodies with healthy, nutrient-dense calories. Clean eating will heal your body from the inside out, helping you naturally shed unwanted pounds and body fat.
A healthy eating plan is fundamentally more important to your overall wellbeing than exercise alone. Nutritious food is the very building blocks of a healthy body and mind. Eating real food – not bars, shakes and supplements – is key to long-term, sustainable healthy eating.
Make 2017 the year you make sustainable long-term lifestyle changes – healthy eating is just the beginning…