By now, New Year’s resolutions may be a long forgotten concept, and it’s a great time to revisit yours. Last month I encouraged you to set realistic resolutions focused on healthy eating habits. If you are finding that your resolve has faded, take the next week (or more) to make eating less, eating only when you are hungry, making healthful choices and planning ahead permanent habits. These resolutions, along with the next four recommendations below, will help you achieve a healthy body this year with a positive, not deprived, mentality. For the next four weeks, set one goal a week to continue your journey.
1. Slow down.
Eating quickly usually causes us to eat more than we need and makes us miss out on enjoying our food. Mindful eating is the art of giving meals and snacks your full attention. Sit down to eat without the TV, your computer or other distractions. Pause before eating, smell your food, chew slowly, and savor each bite. I am guilty of eating breakfast on the go and eating lunch at the computer, but as I work on mindfulness, I definitely appreciate my food and feel more satisfied when I slow down and focus. Mindful eating lets you enjoy your food without overeating, and helps get rid of the old notion of
cleaning your plate.
2. Drink more water.
Recent research has proven the idea that water can fill you up. When participants drank two cups of water before a meal, they consumed fewer calories and lost more weight than participants who did not drink water before meals. The rest of the day, water works its magic when it replaces high-sugar soda and juice, saving potentially hundreds of calories. So make it a habit to drink before meals in addition to downing a water bottle during the morning hours and another in the afternoon.
3. Pay attention to the two Ps: produce and protein.
Populations with low rates of chronic disease and high rates of good health have something in common: plenty of produce (fruits and vegetables) and high quality protein (lean meats, soy, legumes, nuts, and nonfat dairy) throughout the day. These foods fill you up and keep you satisfied longer than processed foods and simple sugars. Try adding a fruit, vegetable, or protein to every meal and snack.
4. Be a good role model.
If you think nobody’s watching, think again. Your coworkers, friends, siblings and children notice what you eat and how you interact with food. In fact, a recent study showed parents have more potential to influence their children’s eating behavior than anyone else, and not just with their words. Eating healthful foods and working to improve habits such as mindful eating and drinking water will show others the importance and benefits of trying to be healthy. Focus on health, not weight, and keep a cheerful attitude as you adopt healthier habits.
Continue to practice these ideas along with the first four goals. Once these new behaviors are firmly established, you will have more confidence in your healthy lifestyle journey.
As seen in the Fort Collins Coloradoan
Melissa Wdowik, PhD, RDN, LDN, FAND
is a nutrition educator with over 20 years experience as a college professor, nutrition coach, presenter and writer, as well as a nutrition consultant and founding director of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center.