Wellness Wednesday: Making Healthy Resolutions that Work

So you made a resolution, right? To lose weight, exercise more or eat healthier? Maybe you pinned an old photo to the fridge to motivate you.

All time ready to runYou were totally onboard on January 2, keeping that food diary, going to the gym, packing a lunch, eating only high protein, low fat, low carb foods.

Now it’s almost two weeks in and maybe you’re wondering what you were thinking. You’re tired, a little cranky, the gym is too far and let’s face it … you’re hungry!

You may have tried to bite off more than you can chew (oops … sorry!).

Instead of completely giving up, go a bit easier on yourself. You can change your eating habits and increase your activity and become healthier without starving yourself.

January 16-22 is Healthy Weight Week. About this time, people are realizing they may have been kidding themselves with unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. You don’t have to make big unreachable New Year’s resolutions to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. In fact, some small changes in your eating habits can help make a big difference in your health.

A healthy lifestyle involves many choices. Among them, choosing a balanced diet or healthy eating plan. So how do you choose a healthy eating plan? Let’s begin by defining what a healthy eating plan is.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy eating plan:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars
  • Stays within your daily calorie needs

Eat Healthfully and Enjoy It!

A healthy eating plan that helps you manage your weight includes a variety of foods you may not have considered. If “healthy eating” makes you think about the foods you can’t have, try refocusing on all the new foods you can eat—

  • Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Fruits—don’t think just apples or bananas. All fresh, frozen, or canned fruits are great choices. Be sure to try some “exotic” fruits, too. How about a mango? Or a juicy pineapple or kiwi fruit! When your favorite fresh fruits aren’t in season, try a frozen, canned, or dried variety of a fresh fruit you enjoy. One caution about canned fruits is that they may contain added sugars or syrups. Be sure and choose canned varieties of fruit packed in water or in their own juice.
  • Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Vegetables—try something new. You may find that you love grilled vegetables or steamed vegetables with an herb you haven’t tried like rosemary. You can sauté (panfry) vegetables in a non-stick pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Or try frozen or canned vegetables for a quick side dish—just microwave and serve. When trying canned vegetables, look for vegetables without added salt, butter or cream sauces. Commit to going to the produce department and trying a new vegetable each week.
  • Calcium-rich foods—you may automatically think of a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk when someone says “eat more dairy products.” But what about low-fat and fat-free yogurts without added sugars? These come in a wide variety of flavors and can be a great dessert substitute for those with a sweet tooth.
  • A new twist on an old favorite—if your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling. Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories—you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish! 

Do I have to give up my favorite comfort food?

Funny dieting woman housewife choosing between healthy food  fast food.No! Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods even if they are high in calories, fat or added sugars. The key is eating them only once in a while, and balancing them out with healthier foods and more physical activity.

Some general tips for comfort foods:

  • Eat them less often. If you normally eat these foods every day, cut back to once a week or once a month. You’ll be cutting your calories because you’re not having the food as often.
  • Eat smaller amounts. If your favorite higher-calorie food is a chocolate bar, have a smaller size or only half a bar.
  • Try a lower-calorie version. Use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare food differently. For example, if your macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with non-fat milk, less butter, light cream cheese, fresh spinach and tomatoes. Just remember to not increase your portion size. For more ideas on how to cut back on calories, see Eat More Weigh Less.

The point is, you can figure out how to include almost any food in your healthy eating plan in a way that still helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Wellness Wednesday: Eating Healthy During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is filled with hustle and bustle, shopping, decorating, gift-giving (and receiving) and spending time with family and friends. But let’s face it … it’s also a time for over-indulging in some pretty awesome food!

Head of the family cutting the turkeyBetween Thanksgiving and New Years, if you’re like most people, there is no shortage of family and friend get-togethers filled with great feasts and delicious treats. There’s turkey and ham, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, seven fishes (if you’re Italian), Christmas cookies, chrusciki (if you’re Polish), pies (oh, so many pies!) and lots of candy treats.

And if you’re Jewish, or invited to the home of Jewish friends or family, you’ll likely find plenty of chocolate gelt, rugelach, kugel and sufganiyot (jam-filled doughnuts) as well.

It’s easy to get carried away and many of us have felt that bloated feeling of eating too much during this time. And if you’re dieting … it can become a make a break time if you’re not careful.

But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. You can indulge in some of your favorites if you just remember … moderation. If you are the one doing the cooking or baking, you can make some changes in the menu or recipe to help keep calories down without losing flavor.

Sweet potatoes vs. sweet potato casserole. Instead of candied yams or sweet potato casserole, which is often loaded with butter and sugar, make fresh sweet potatoes and offer cinnamon and sugar or sugar substitute on the side. Sweet potatoes are actually very nutritious and loaded with potassium.

Use olive oil instead of butter in recipes when possible.

Applesauce instead of butter. If you’re making a cake, you can substitute and equal amount of apple sauce for butter in the recipe, and it will still taste great with less calories.

But what if you’re visiting friends and family? How do you eat well when you’re out?

Mandarins covered with chocolate and pistachio, top viewBring a healthy dessert. It’s always polite to bring something when you visit someone’s home. So bring along a home-baked dessert. This way, when everyone is having sweets, you can partake and won’t be as tempted to eat something you shouldn’t.

And don’t forget to stay physical during the holidays. Do you tend to make a New Years resolution? Start early. Physical activity is helpful to increasing your metabolism and it also can make you feel better and help beat holiday blues.

Start taking a walk around the block each night after dinner or in the morning before work, then increase to twice around the block. It can help clear your mind and relieve the stress that is often felt during this time of year. Take the family for a walk through the neighborhood to look at the lighted houses. You can do a few blocks each night. And you won’t notice because you’ll be enjoying the view.


More Information:

AHA Holiday Healthy Eating Guide