Many Americans decide to change their diet and exercise in the New Year. While this is a great goal, we sometimes tend to set goals that are too hard to achieve and by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around, we are eating the entire box of chocolates. So here are five changes you can make that are simple and a little more obtainable.
Add more fruits and veggies
I know this sounds very cliché but it is so important. Veggies not only provide us with amazing nutrients and antioxidants but they are also low in calories and full of fiber, to keep us feeling fuller for longer, preventing us from eating extra calories throughout the day that can lead to excess weight gain.
All forms count
- 100% juice
Yes that’s right I said canned and 100% juice! Here are some of my favorite ways to add more servings each day.
Breakfast – I always have 100% orange juice with my breakfast and I add blueberries and bananas to the top of my whole grain waffles.
Lunch – For lunch, I always have a side salad with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers and mushrooms. It doesn’t need to be a huge salad or the main dish. Then I always have a fruit cup in 100% juice. When I have soup, I always open up a can of veggies and pour it into my soup. Are you having a grilled cheese with that soup, why not add a tomato and spinach leaf?
Dinner – For dinner, whether I am making stir fry, hot dish, or fajitas, veggies are always the main component. When my mom made tator tot hot dish (gotta love MN cooking) she would add two pounds of beef and one bag of mixed veggies. When I make it, I add 1 pound of beef and two bags of veggies, if not more. Plus I always serve a veggie on the side. With fajitas, who says meat has to be the main part? The peppers and onions sautéed in olive oil are what brings in the real flavor. Don’t forget the guacamole made with 100% avocados. For stir fry, try to have a ratio of two to one for veggies to meat. Remember a fruit cup always makes a good dessert!
Limit your added sugars
Fruit in any form, and 100% juice does NOT count as an added sugar. Honey, agave nectar, 100% maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, and raw organic sugar DO count as added sugar. And I’m sure you know regular sugar and high fructose corn syrup also count as added sugar. Look for these ingredients in the labels of your favorite foods and try to make a better choice. Remember added sugars are just extra calories with very minimal if any nutritional value.
Limit your sodium
Sodium is hidden in so many foods, always be on the look out for this! It is recommended to get no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, unless you had a heart condition, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or African American. Those risk factors reduce your daily intake to 1500mg/day. Look at the nutrition facts panel, just because it says “reduced sodium” doesn’t mean its “low sodium.” Challenge yourself to add up your sodium throughout the day. I guarantee you will be shocked! Remember the sodium amounts are PER SERVING, so if you have two servings of a food item you need to double the sodium amount.
When I say this I don’t necessarily mean to exercise or go to the gym for an hour a day. I mean lead an active lifestyle ALL day. Park your car farther from the building, take the stairs, walk an extra lap around the store on your next shopping trip, clean your house, lift soup cans during commercials, shovel your driveway, walk to get the mail, host walking meetings, walk during your break at work. All of these little things will add up to a healthier lifestyle and your body will thank you!
Science based information and diets
Get your nutrition information from qualified medical professionals. Nutritionists, Wikipedia, and Dr. Oz don’t count. Make sure you are talking to a registered dietitian; someone with the education and credentials to give you science based information that has been researched and validated. Be wary of fad diets and know how to pick them out. For example, if you are supposed to eliminate an entire food group like for example in the paleo diet, it is a fad diet. If it has promising results and huge weight loss in a small amount of time, it is a fad diet. If it is a special pill or potion, it is a fad diet. Honestly, eating right really does come down to the basics, some of which are mentioned above. You will not lose 10 pounds in a week doing this, but I promise you it is the most sustainable approach and your body will love you for it. Not only will you be seeing results in your weight, but your risk for chronic disease can decrease, your skin can look cleaner and your body will be functioning at a more optimal level! I hope I can help you to eat REAL food in REAL life!
Happy New Year everyone!!
Peace and Wellness
Coborn’s, Inc. Registered Dietitian
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