Dedicate yourself to a healthy lifestyle in 2016 with these health tips.
- Eat Breakfast
There’s no better way to start your morning—and the year—than with a healthy balanced breakfast. Try to include lean protein, whole grains and fruits and vegetables. For example, whole wheat toast with peanut butter, a veggie omelet with low-fat cheese, or a bowl of oatmeal topped with nuts and berries.
- Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables
Not only do fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture to meals, but they are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Choose from fresh, frozen, and even canned.
- Watch Portion Sizes
Get out your measuring cups and see how close your portions are to the recommended serving size. Try using smaller plates, bowls and cups. When building your meals, aim for half of your plate for vegetables, a quarter for grains and a quarter for lean meat or protein.
- Be Regularly Active
Regular physical activity has numerous health benefits, including weight control and lowering disease risk. Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time and gradually increase your activity to meet the recommendation of 150 minutes per week (30 minutes on 5 days). You don’t have to hit the gym. Choose an activity that you enjoy, like a game of basketball, a dance class, or hiking.
- Fix Healthy Snacks
Healthy, balanced snacks can curb your hunger and maintain energy levels between meals. Try to make your snacks combination snacks that include lean protein, healthy fats, fiber or carbohydrates. For example, low-fat yogurt with fruit, whole-grain crackers with cheese, or an ounce of nuts with an apple.
- Get to Know Food Labels
Food labels are like nutrition report cards and utilizing this information can help you improve your eating habits for the better. Use the labels to see what ingredients your food contains, compare products and choose the healthier option (lower in fat, sugar and sodium and higher in beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals).
- Cook Dinner at Home
Cooking at home can be healthy and cost-effective. The key is to plan ahead. Choose meals that you can make in advance or use shortcuts such as pre-cut or frozen veggies. Keep staples on hand, such as low-sodium broth, beans, brown rice or whole grain pasta, and herbs. If you have more time on the weekends to cook, try making double batches and freezing the leftovers.
- Follow Food Safety Guidelines
By using safe food handling practices you can decrease your chances of getting foodborne illness. Wash your hands before, during, and after food preparation, especially when handling raw ingredients. Keep kitchen surfaces and utensils clean. Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from ready-to-eat foods like bread and vegetables. Use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked to a safe internal temperature. Refrigerate leftovers quickly.
- Make Meal Time Family Time
Research shows that family meals promote healthier eating. Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week this year. Get the kids involved in choosing and cooking meals. It’s a great opportunity to teach them about good nutrition. Set a regular mealtime and turn off the TV, phones and other electronic devices to encourage conversation at the dinner table.
- Dine Out without Ditching Your Goals
You can dine at a restaurant and stick to your healthy eating plan- the key is to be prepared! Check the restaurant’s menu online before you go to see what healthy options are available. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions, such as a grilled over fried option or ordering a double portion of vegetables. Look for items that are roasted, grilled, baked, broiled or steamed, and use sauces and dressings sparingly.
- Bring Your Lunch to Work
Make bringing lunch to work easy by planning ahead. Stock up on healthy meal ingredients, such as whole grain bread, lean deli meats or rotisserie chicken, cheese, vegetables and salad, low-fat yogurt and fruit. Try preparing the week’s lunches on the weekend and use leftovers. By bringing your lunch to work you’ll save on your waistline and your wallet!
- Drink More Water
Our bodies count on water for important functions, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Swap out soda and other sugary drinks (sweet tea, lemonade, energy drinks, flavored lattes, etc.) with water or low-calorie, sugar-free alternatives. Try carrying a refillable water bottle or keeping a cup on your desk at work as a reminder to stay hydrated!
- Cut back on Caffeine
Consuming too much caffeine can make you jittery, cause you to lose energy later in the day, and interfere with sleep. Try to limit your daily caffeine intake to no more than 300-400 mg per day, which is the equivalent of 2-3 cups of regular coffee. Look out for other sources of caffeine, including soda, black tea, and energy drinks. If you need to wean off caffeine, do it gradually. Try switching to half decaf coffee, replacing 1 cup of regular soda or coffee with decaf, use a smaller mug or cup, switch to herbal tea, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Get a Good Night’s Rest
Adequate sleep is not only vital for good health, but a solid night’s rest can help with appetite and weight management. Aim for at least 7-8 hours per night. Start off the New Year by creating a new bedtime routine. Turn of the TV, phone, and other electronics, stick to a regular bedtime, and be careful of drinking alcohol or caffeine late at night since these beverages can interrupt sleep.
- Promote Positive Self-Talk!
Positive thinking helps reduce stress and improve health. Practice overcoming negative thinking this year with positive self-talk. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself, evaluate negative thoughts and ask yourself how you can put a positive spin on them, and respond with affirmations. It may take time and practice, but start this year off by focusing on one area of your life to approach in a more positive way.
- Take Time to De-stress
It’s easy to let the hustle and bustle of life become overwhelming unless we take the time to relax and de-stress. Spend a few minutes each day doing some relaxing meditation, stretching, reading a chapter of a book, listening to calming music, or talking a brisk walk around the block.