The dawn of a new year is the perfect time to review one’s fitness and nutrition goals, and to make changes for the future. While exercise is most definitely important, one’s diet is critical to their overall success with weight and nutrition goals. Following are five basic ways that one can improve their diet for the New Year:
1. Eat fruits and vegetables at every meal. It is recommended that adults eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, gaining vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and more from these natural sources. Regular fruit and vegetable intake has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers and other chronic diseases. Furthermore, they can be quite filling and therefore reduce the amount of other calories the individual may try to eat, which can help them to lose weight.
2. Drink water primarily. Sodas and other beverages can have added sugar and therefore added calories, but there is another reason why water is a good choice. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has indicated that individuals who drink lots of water tend to have healthier diets in general, with plenty of fiber, less sugar intake and fewer high-calorie foods. Regular water consumption can also help to curb one’s appetite and boost your metabolism.
3. Eat whole-food starches. Refined grains, like white bread, pasta, rice, crackers, pretzels, baked goods and cereals can increase one’s calorie intake and contribute to poor health. Whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat and quinoa can reduce one’s risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity because they delay stomach emptying which makes the individual feel full for longer and delays the return of hunger, and they help to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels.
4. Reduce and monitor your sugar intake. Many people are under the impression that sugar is not beneficial to their diet and should therefore be avoided entirely. However, for many it is difficult to completely abstain from all sugar intake all the time because it can lead to intense cravings and overeating, so moderation is therefore quite helpful. The American Heart Association advises that added sugar intake should be no more than six level teaspoons per day for women and nine level teaspoons per day for men.
5. Be aware of your diet and nutrition needs. This includes identifying hunger and fullness cues, eating slowly and recognizing non-physical eating triggers that can be handled through activity as opposed to food consumption. Individuals often find that eating when they first become hungry can lead to smaller, more healthful meals, and eating slowly can allow them to experience fullness prior to overeating.
The above tips can help one to start on the path to a healthier body, and therefore a healthier, happier and more productive New Year.