Nutrition Solutions / Make just one change
It's February. How's it going with your New Year's resolutions?
It's that time of year when people struggle with ambitious goals: lose 30 pounds, exercise every single day, give up all sweets. Those are big changes, and, while they're admirable goals, they're not stated in a way that makes them seem achievable.
Try something different this year: resolve to make just one small change each month. Making gradual changes is much more doable and effective than trying to make a whole bunch of changes at one time. We can think of each one as a rung in a ladder: we'll work on a change until it's a habit, then step up to do the next and so on. In no time, we'll have a nice strong ladder built on success.
February: Get more sleep. Getting enough sleep helps regulate the hormones that tell us when we're hungry and when we're full. Deprive yourself of sleep and you may find yourself eating more than you need, leading to weight gain. Try going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier a night each week until you're well-rested.
March: Measure it. Getting portion sizes right is one of the best things you can do to lose weight. Measuring is key to knowing how much you're eating; otherwise you're just guessing. This month, pull out your measuring cups, spoons and a food scale. Use them with everything you eat at home and you'll quickly learn how much you're really eating.
April: Drink more water. Our bodies are happier when they're well-hydrated. Our cells function better, we have more energy and our GI tract hums along efficiently. Aim for eight 8-ounce servings of water each day. Buy brightly colored bottles and keep them on your desk, in your car, in your purse or gym bag.
May: Spring clean your kitchen. We eat what's easily available to us. That means if your kitchen is stocked with healthy choices, you're more likely to eat better. This doesn't have to be an all-day project. Tackle a shelf a day in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Toss anything that's old or has trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup or other junky ingredients. When you shop, restock with healthier choices.
June: Take a deep breath. Short-circuit emotional eating by taking a nice, relaxing, deep breath before you reach for that cookie. Exhale fully, then fill your belly with air. Repeat.
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July: Try a new vegetable. Differently colored vegetables provide different nutrients. Try something new or that you haven't had in a long time to shake things up a bit. Hit the farmer's market and ask one of the purveyors to introduce you to her favorite vegetable. Do this each week and you'll soon expand your repertoire.
August: Have a meatless meal at least once a week. Studies show that those who follow a plant-based diet live longer and have less risk of disease than those who eat meat. You don't have to give up meat completely to recognize the benefits. Make one dinner each week meatless, subbing in beans or eggs for the protein.
September: Try a wheat-free grain. The wheat we eat may not be as healthy as we think. Research is showing that it's more inflammatory, addictive and fattening than the wheat we ate just a few generations ago. Try a wheat-free grain, such as black rice (aka forbidden or emperor's rice) or quinoa.
October: Add some (healthy) fat. Our bodies require fat to create things like cell membranes and hormones. Plus, fat makes foods taste good and helps us feel satisfied with what we eat. The key is to eat it mindfully so we don't overload on calories. Try a tablespoon of olive oil on your salad greens, a couple of slices of avocado on your sandwich or a quarter-cup of nuts as a snack.
November: Try a dairy-free milk. More and more people seem to be sensitive to cow's milk, so cutting down can help us feel better. Replace some of what you drink with unsweetened almond or rice milk. You'll get a calcium punch without the animal proteins or lactose that might irritate your GI system.
December: Spice it up. Some spices are incredibly healthful. Turmeric and ginger are powerful anti-inflammatories, while cinnamon can help regulate your blood sugar. Plus, they taste great. Add freshly grated ginger to stir fries, roasted vegetables; cinnamon to cooked oatmeal or plain yogurt. Indulge in curried Indian dishes and you'll get a dose of turmeric.
Lisa Corrado makes busy people healthier by combining clinical nutrition with culinary training. She can be reached at 203-972-3447 or Lisa@LisaCorradoNutrition.com or through www.LisaCorradoNutrition.com.