By Esther Trepal RD,MS, CDN
It’s that time of year again. A new year and those New Year’s Resolutions. People love them or hate them, but they just can’t seem to stay away from them. For those of you looking to make some changes in your diet, let’s get started!
Let me congratulate you on an excellent resolution. Lifestyle choices are a big factor in the appearance of common chronic disease of today. That includes obesity, inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and cancer. Not that healthy eating, exercising and relaxing are a “free pass,” but they do reduce the odds. Long-term effects aren’t the only benefits. Adopting a healthier lifestyle often brings renewed energy and delicious feelings of well-being. What could be a better way to start the year and get through the winter doldrums?
Dietary changes are often most lasting when introduced in small doses. So, a good idea is to keep your New Year’s Resolution simple and doable. Below is a list of some great areas to target. While these are in broad strokes, hopefully they can get you thinking about one or two small changes you can make.
Eat More Plants Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Vegetables are real powerhouses that provide anti-oxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals that promote a well-functioning body. Focus on the non-starchy variety, such as kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, beets, carrots, onions, mushrooms, tomato, leafy greens, summer squash, etc., etc. Aim for at least two servings of fruit per day.
Eat Whole Foods To the extent possible, eat whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fresh meats. Whole foods are unprocessed or minimally processed. As such, they contain no additives or fewer additives, including salt. If you’re in a pinch and need to put a meal together quickly, there are some options. For example, frozen vegetables and even canned vegetables and beans are minimally processed. Canned tuna or salmon is also a decent choice for protein. Keep these on hand for emergencies.
Keep Meat Lean Poultry and fish are no brainers. As long as they are not fried, they are naturally lean. Enjoy red meats, including beef, pork, or lamb, occasionally. Some of the best, leanest cuts come from grass fed, pastured animals since their meat is less fatty than corn fed. For beef sirloin and top round are good choices, for pork it’s the tenderloin or boneless loin chops , and for lamb we recommend a butterflied leg, loin chop or rack of lamb. For slow cooking stewing cuts of all red meats, allow the stew to cool so you can skim the fat off the top before reheating and eating.
Cut Back on Junk Food While adding lots of good things (see above), also start to eliminate junk food and sweetened beverages. Instead, get creative and think of more healthy choices for snacks. This might include fruits, vegetables, salsa and whole grain crackers, yogurt and whole grain cereal, or walnuts/almonds. Browse the CFYL website for all kinds of more healthful dessert items.
Be a Planner Your diet won’t change if there’s no plan in place. Give yourself time, even take a few days off work to really focus on this project. Think about your lifestyle and what would be a realistic change for you. Then research recipes, explore new food venues, do your shopping and start cooking and eating better.
Happy New Year!