As the New Year begins, we often make resolutions to eat healthier and that usually means losing some weight and exercising. To take advantage of the season, advertisers are bombarding us with ads for diets, food systems, exercise equipment and other items to help keep these resolutions: however they can often leave you disappointed. Besides, in these times every penny counts, so we don’t have the extra to purchase the advertised items. So what to do?
Here are NINE tips for ‘09 taken from health experts and successful individuals who have developed healthy habits and kept weight off over time. These can help you stay on track with meeting your New Year’s resolutions while still eating healthy and saving money.
- Watch your portions – Easier said then done! A simpler method than calorie counting or measuring out every bite is to re-balance your plate. The “healthy plate” concept helps people control portion size and increase the balance of healthier lower calorie foods. For more details check out these nutrition notes.
Another tip for a “healthy plate” is to use a 9” diameter plate instead of the current standard 12” size. Your plate will look fuller, even with smaller portions.
- Pile on the vegetables and whole fruits - As you can see on the healthy plate, half the plate is vegetables and whole fruits, which are nutrient-rich, low in fat and calories, high in fiber, and loaded with health-promoting compounds. The key is variety, so try eating by colors. Don’t forget that during this time of year, frozen vegetables are an economical buy. Frozen and canned fruits in the own juices are also excellent buys.
- Go for the whole grains – Grains are carbohydrates which we need for energy. Whole grains contain more vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber that than white highly processed grain foods. The properties of whole grains also have stabilizing influences on blood sugar levels. To keep it interesting check out ideas at Whole Grain Council.
- Eat healthy fats – by selecting low-fat dairy and lean meats, poultry and fish. Check your labels to avoid transfat in many other foods. Use oils such as olive or canola that contain heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Checking the weekly flyers and using coupons is a great way to save on the low-fat dairy items and the healthy oils.
- Go little nuts- Nuts such as walnuts and almond are rich in omega-3 and other antioxidants which are heart-healthy. Unlike snacks made from refined grains and sugars, nuts have fat and fiber to satisfy hunger and steady blood sugars. Here are tips for portion control and more on the benefits of adding nuts to your food list.
- Go meatless once or twice a week and enjoy legumes and beans – adding beans and legumes to your food selection instead of meat are not only economical substitutions. They also are excellent sources of low-fat protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Use beans or legumes in stew, pasta and other dishes.
- Slow down! – These days it may seem challenging to juggle work, family and other responsibilities, but eating on the run and under stress can cause heart burn and less absorption of nutrients. Most importantly, eating too fast makes it more difficult to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Fast eaters usually complete a meal in ten minutes while slow eaters take 2-3 times longer and consume 70 to100 calories less! Take time to enjoy the healthy plate of food.
- Increase your physical activity – this does not have to cost you any money. Try taking the stairs as a great way to add some physical activity into your daily routine. Think about this way you can “weight” for an elevator or take the stairs and burn some calories.
- Drink up… your H20 – Water is a low- or no cost-way to stay hydrated and improve your health without adding calories. Check out why.
So sticking to your New Year’s resolution for healthy eating and physical activity can be done without breaking the budget. Tell me your successes at Ask Kathy.