If you plan to make New Year’s resolutions, you’re not alone. According to The Barna Group survey, over 90 million Americans will kick off 2011 with a New Year’s resolution. So what’s the key to keeping a resolution? Just follow a few simple steps. Make goals simple, specific and within reach. Small changes that can reasonably be made throughout the year are the easiest to keep. According to the Marist poll, of the Americans making New Year’s Resolutions, over 50% plan some type of healthy lifestyle change.16% intend to "lose weight" and 8% to "exercise more," so diet plays a key role in reaching these goals. To get off to a healthy start for 2012, consider these easy, nutritious New Year’s Resolutions:
Try Something New
It’s time to be adventurous. Try at least one new food or find recipes for some of those lesser known vegetables, fruits or herbs. It is easy to get stuck in a routine and forget that eating a variety of colorful foods is essential. They provide antioxidants, a strong weapon against disease. Some less familiar produce are pomegranates, choy sum, galangal root, endive, kale and kumquats. Look around and explore the different options in your supermarket or find a recipe with one of these foods and make it. This is an easy goal that can introduce you to many new foods and meal options.
Love your Heart with Whole Grains
Eat at least three whole grains each day. Whole grains, one of the most beneficial foods for the body, contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fiber helps the heart, lowers cholesterol, reduces risk of some cancers and makes you feel full longer after a meal. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans need 6-8 ounces of grains per day. An ounce of grains is the same as a slice of bread, ½ cup of cooked rice or one cup of dry cereal. At least half of grains should be whole grains. So choose whole wheat breads, pastas and rice throughout the day.
Water: The energy drink
Drink at least four cups of water a day. Most adults need about 8 to 13 cups a day to replace what is lost. Our bodies are made of about 70% water, which can be lost through breathing, sweating and urinating. According to the USDA, one in three Americans over 60 is not drinking enough fluids. One simple way to boost fluid is keeping a bottle of water or other drink with you throughout the day to sip on. Replacing sodas with water is a good way to increase fluid and decrease calories. Also be sure to drink more water before and after exercising. Other beverages that provide water and healthy nutrients are low fat milk, tea or small servings of fruit juice. Most importantly, staying hydrated will keep energy up all day.
Omega-3: The Good Fat
Fat is another important part of the diet. "Good" unsaturated fats and omega-3’s are the superstars of this group that protect the heart and help lower blood pressure. So eating at least one omega-3-rich food each day is an easy, healthy goal. Foods boast omega-3’s include salmon, tuna, sardines, flax seed, walnuts, canola oil and canned spinach.
Planning for Success
Finally, one of the most helpful resolutions is planning. Preparing meals ahead can save time and money. According to a Penn State survey, people who planned meals ahead were more successful at losing weight. Try it once and see how it goes. It’s simple: create menus for two weeks of meals, make a grocery list and stick to it and prepare parts of the meals one day of the week. For example, on Saturday, make dinners that can easily be frozen and re-heated during the week and pack all of the lunches for the week. By planning ahead you’ll make fewer unhealthy food choices and save money by eating out less often.
Erin Landa is a December 2011 graduate of at Texas Woman’s University dietetic internship who completed a community nutrition rotation with Neva Cochran in December.