Healthy, Wealthy, Wise

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5 tips for a healthier diet in 2011

It’s that time of year again. January, a chance to start fresh. The past few weeks of overindulging results in a resolution to get back on track and eat healthy. This goal is set with the best of intentions, but as the year progresses, your time and enthusiasm diminish, and your eating habits return to the way they were. If this sounds like a familiar story, you are certainly not alone. Studies show that 75 percent of people setting a New Year goal will not succeed past the end of the first week. So how can we follow through on our resolutions and make long lasting changes? The answer is to set small, realistic goals. The following is a list of five small changes that can be made to improve your eating habits for good. 

Strategize. Sit down with your favorite cookbook and a blank calendar and fill in at least five days worth of meals. Include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one or two snacks for each day. From this meal plan you can make a shopping list and purchase everything you need for the whole week. You can cook some items ahead of time, for example a big pot of rice, and plug in meals incorporating rice during the week. You can also design the meal plan to match your schedule. If you know on Wednesday night you won’t get home until 9pm, you can prepare double portions of dinner the night before. Having this strategy in place will keep you organized and efficient in the kitchen, allowing you to quickly put together healthy meals.

Breakfast. Although our schedules don’t always permit it, breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. When you eat a healthy breakfast that includes protein, your metabolism runs more efficiently and your blood sugar levels are steadier throughout the entire day. If you are pressed for time in the morning, try a fruit smoothie and a hard-boiled egg or whole grain toast with almond butter and fruit salad. 

Eat a rainbow. You want to aim for at least two colorful fruits or vegetables with every meal. Each color has a unique nutritional profile filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support all aspects of your health. Consuming all the colors covers all of your nutritional bases. Try steamed kale with roasted tomatoes, carrots and yellow bell peppers with hummus or fresh plums with blueberries. 

Mindful eating. In this day and age, eating is something we often squeeze in between the "really important stuff". When we eat mindfully, we often appreciate our food more, eat less, digest better and slow down a bit. Try eating while sitting down at a table, chewing your food well, putting away all distractions including the television, and tuning into how the food tastes, how it makes you feel and when to stop. Mealtimes should be separate from all the other activities we do in a day. 

Label reading. Knowing what foods are good for us can be very confusing. The grocery store shelves are often filled with bold promises ("Good for your Heart!" "Will lower your cholesterol!"), and long lists of ingredients that look like names out of a science fiction novel (ethoxylated diglycerides?). Adopting a few simple rules while buying your food can make a world of a difference in our health. Rule #1: Don’t buy anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Rule #2: Don’t buy foods your great-grandmother wouldn’t eat. 

Rule #3: The least amount of ingredients on a package label the better.

By incorporating one or more of these tips into your daily life, you will be working towards your goal of making long lasting changes towards a healthier way of eating. 

Toast to your health, Happy New Year!

Morgan Kulchinsky is the Nutrition Educator at the New Age Health Spa. For more information visit www.newagehealthspa.com.

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