Tips for Healthy Eating and Healthy Weight in the New Year
Valerie Rakes, RD
Nutrition Outpatient Center
Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital
Wanting those New Year’s resolutions to “stick” this year in relation to healthy eating and maintaining an ideal weight? Below are some tips that can help you meet your goals and have a healthier 2016.
- Develop a plan for lifelong health, not just short-term weight loss. A “diet” has a beginning and an end… and then what? Making healthy lifestyle changes that are sustainable over the long term is vital in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Set healthy, realistic, measureable goals. Start with one or two specific, small changes at a time. Track your progress by keeping a food and activity log. When you have turned a healthy change into a habit, reward yourself with a non-food fun activity.
- Eat at least three meals a day and plan your meals ahead of time; use a slow cooker; cook more than you need and freeze the rest. Learn which restaurants and supermarket delis have salad, soup, or grilled chicken so if you have to eat “to go,” you can make healthy choices. Use one day of the week to plan your meals and shop with a list.
- Balance your plate with the right portions of a variety of foods. Half your plate should be filled with vegetables, one fourth with lean meat, poultry or fish and one fourth with grains/starches.
- Try changing from a large dinner plate to a smaller one. It may help you feel satisfied with reduced portions.
- Start your meal with low-calorie foods like fruits, vegetables and salads, then move on to the main course and side dishes.
- Get plenty of fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Fiber can help you feel full longer and lower your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes
- Focus on your food. Pick one place to sit down and eat at home, preferably the kitchen table, with no distractions. Eating unconsciously while doing other things, like watching TV, may lead to overeating.
- Know when you have had enough to eat. Quit before you feel full or stuffed. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that you are full. Slow down!
- Plan for nutritious snacks to prevent between-meal hunger; this will prevent overeating at the next meal. Enjoy a small handful of nuts or trail mix, or low-fat yogurt, fruit or veggies with hummus. Keep portable, healthy snacks in your desk, backpack or car.
- Before you eat, ask yourself “Am I Hungry?” Sometimes we reach for food because we are bored, stressed, happy or sad. It may be helpful to post a list of non-food alternatives (on the refrigerator or pantry door) to help to cope with emotional eating and break the habit. Try the “Am I Hungry” app and website for some great advice and tools.
- Find a support system; ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable to your goals and to be your “cheerleader.”