Commit Yourself to a Healthier Lifestyle in the New Year — And Mean It

The Resolutions Revolution

Another year, another round of making those healthy-eating New Year’s resolutions.

There’s “I’m cutting my meal size in half,” “I’m going vegetarian (or vegan or calorie-restricted) this year,” and the classic “No more … ,” be it bacon, bread, cake or candy bars. At least 40 percent of U.S. adults make one or more resolutions each year, and at least two-thirds of them vow to change something unhealthy about themselves, according to a small study conducted by John C. Norcross, a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. The most popular resolutions concern weight, fitness and smoking.

Tallahassee nutritionist Freddy Kaye suggests a different mindset: “Have a New Year’s revolution, not resolution,” he advises. “Revolt against old habits, plan when you are going to eat your meals and let your body create a routine.”

To jumpstart your New Year’s “revolution,” experts offer some simple tips that will improve your eating habits long after New Year’s Day.

1. Count your calories and keep a food log.
If you write everything down, you’ll think twice about eating it. It may sound tedious at first, but when you realize what you’re putting in your body, the list will get shorter and shorter. If you find looking up foods and writing them down a tedious task, let technology help. There are smartphone applications such as “Lose It,” or one of the tools on lets you log on to the Web site and register what you ate that day.

2. Buy foods that suit your lifestyle and tastes.
Even though they might be healthful, complicated recipes are less likely to be prepared if you lead a busy life. An apple, orange, banana or carrot sticks are easy to pack and snack on all day. These healthy treats are jam-packed with nutrients needed to maintain good health. When hunger creeps up, just reach into your bag for a healthy fruit or vegetable instead of grabbing for a fast-food bag of saturated fat.

3. Slow down your eating by using the opposite hand at supper.
By using your opposite hand when eating dinner, your stomach sends the message “I’m full” with less food, because you tend to eat faster with your dominant hand.

4. Drink water or caffeine- and alcohol-free beverages throughout the day.
You feel better when you’re hydrated with the right liquids. Water is your body’s principal chemical component, making up, on average, 60 percent of your body weight, according to the Mayo Clinic. By drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water, you replenish the water lost every day. Water also flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells, and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues. Lack of water can lead to dehydration, and even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

5. Eat primarily whole foods, grains, fruit and unprocessed foods. The less you do to the food, the better it is for you.
Whole foods reduce cholesterol levels, bring down the number of calories ingested, and help keep the body active and vibrant. They contain a natural complex of carbohydrates that are not only filling but also decrease one’s desire to consume sugary items.

6. Guard against the bone thief.
Osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease, is a major public health threat for 44 million Americans, 80 percent of them women, according to the National Institute of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases Resource Center. Healthy sources of dairy include skim milk, low-fat cheeses and yogurt.

7. Lower your stress load.
We can’t do it all, and sometimes that to-do list is never-ending. Research shows that stress can wreak havoc on health, causing stomachaches, diarrhea, increased appetite and weight gain. Constant stress also can compromise the immune system, making people more vulnerable to colds and other infections. The pressure also can aggravate illnesses, produce anxiety and depression, disrupt valuable sleep, decrease sex drive and raise blood pressure, according to Web MD.

8. Go to the doctor.
This one is especially for the guys. Men make 130 million fewer visits to the doctor than women do, and that’s not even including childbirth visits, says Armin Brott, author of “Father for Life.” He says men tend to discount pain and see themselves as indestructible, especially when they’re younger. Besides treating ailments, a medical practitioner can screen for potential problems and keep a record of normal fitness levels.

9. Commit to eating breakfast every morning for two weeks.
“People skip breakfast thinking they’re cutting calories, but by mid-morning and lunch, that person is starved,” says Milton Stokes, chief dietitian for St. Barnabas Hospital in New York City. “Breakfast skippers replace calories during the day with mindless nibbling, then binging at lunch and dinner. They set themselves up for failure.” Most successful dieters — 78 percent — report eating breakfast every day, and almost 90 percent report eating breakfast at least five days a week — “which suggests that starting the day with breakfast is an important strategy to lose weight and keep it off,” says James O. Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

10. Stop eating when you start to feel satisfied.
We know Mom said to finish your plate, but in the case of maintaining good health, not eating the last piece of steak or an entire dessert may be in your best interest.

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