Looking to revamp your diet this new year? I’m here to help! Start by following these 5 steps to jump start a healthy diet and lifestyle for the year 2017.
1.Be reasonable. Make SMART goals.
I recommend starting with only two goals. When you have conquered those goals, make more. May not be a bad idea to have one goal focusing on physical activity and one focusing on diet. These two go hand in hand. Let me give you an example of a SMART goal. “I will track my food intake using MyFitness Pal for three days a week for two weeks”. Getting started with cleaning up your diet and lifestyle can be overwhelming, but this is a good place to start to make yourself accountable.
Download MyFitness Pal, LoseIt, or another food tracking app. A plain old notebook and pen will do the trick as well. Try to track your intake for 3 days out of the week for at least 2 weeks. Track 2 days during the week and one on the weekend. The key here is not to obsess over calories. Be honest and track EVERYTHING. That includes alcohol and other sweetened beverages that we often forget contributes to our overall caloric intake. Again the goal here is to not be afraid of what these numbers tell you. Numbers don’t lie and this is part of making yourself accountable. When you are done tracking at the end of the day or week, take a look at your numbers. What do they tell you? Where are the majority of your calories coming from? Could be excess fat, carbohydrates, or that mocha you happen to have every morning at work. You’ll be surprised what you may find.
3. Eat breakfast.
This one sounds so easy, but it astounds me how many people skip breakfast or other meals during the day. Rule numero uno: your metabolism is your friend. Use it! A recent study by the NPD group, a marketing research company, found that 31 million Americans (or 10%) are skipping breakfast. The reasons for skipping included not feeling hungry/thirsty or too busy. In this society, everyone is busy friends. This should not be an excuse to skip breakfast. Eating breakfast has also been shown to reduce the risk of being overweight or obese, which is just another great reason not to skip breakfast. There are TONS of healthy, on-the-go options for breakfast available. If you need some healthy, breakfast ideas, try some of these:
- Reduced sugar oatmeal packet or instant oatmeal prepared with low fat milk topped with walnuts and blueberries.
- Whole wheat tortilla with 2 Tbsp peanut butter and a whole banana.
- Low fat yogurt with crunchy cereal or low fat granola with sliced peaches.
- Two hard-boiled eggs with an apple.
- Trail mix including almonds, pecans, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds.
- Granola bars (try bear naked or KIND bars)
- Make your own smoothie by blending low fat milk, frozen strawberries, and a banana.
4. Five a day.
In other words, focus on getting your five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. With research indicating that 76% of Americans are not meeting their fruit intake recommendations and 87% not meeting their vegetable intake recommendation, I know this is likely to be a struggle for most individuals. This will also be a double bonus in increasing your dietary fiber, vitamin and mineral intake, maintaining a healthy weight, as well as decreasing risk of chronic diseases and cancer. Click here for tips on how to increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
5. Cut back on added sugars.
According to a recent NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) report, Americans consume on average 20 teaspoons of added sugar daily with men and teens being the biggest culprits. My god, that’s a lot of sugar! This intake often comes from sugary beverages, such as pop and juice, and candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, sweetened yogurt, etc. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men and 6 teaspoons (24 grams) for women daily. For a jump start in reducing your added sugar intake:
- Add fruit! Instead of adding sugar to your yogurt or cereal, add sliced fruit instead.
- Try mixing plain yogurt with regular yogurt. Even better, use plain yogurt with a small dash of honey or artificial sweetener.
- Skip the soda. Water is always the best option. If water isn’t your thing, try Crystal Light or other flavored water (check the label though!)
- Avoid the table sugar with cereal, morning coffee, or tea. These small amounts of sugar on a daily basis can really add up!
Happy New Year and good luck!