As we continue our January series on “The New You” we move from exercise last week to nutrition this week. It is clear that both diet and nutrition play a role in health and wellness- they go hand in hand. Many people start “dieting” after the first of the year and set weight loss goals for themselves and strive to “eat healthy” until those goals are met. However, in most cases, those same people will stop watching their intake or allow certain foods back into their diets once they meet their initial goal. The next thing you know, the weight comes back on and old habits sneak back into the daily routine.
How do we combat this cycle? First, take the word “diet” and remove it from your mindset and vocabulary. Changes in your normal diet and intake patterns should be seen as lifestyle changes and should be changes that you can sustain for more than just 3 or 4 months before they become a burden and dropped. Completely removing a certain food, like chocolate for example, from your diet is probably not a sustainable goal and lifestyle change to make. If you like chocolate, you can go without for a short time, but sooner or later, a craving will strike and it is likely that eventually you will give in to that craving. Once you see yourself as failing at a goal, like not eating any chocolate, it is then likely that you will stop the diet altogether, deeming it too challenging and fall back into your normal eating pattern. This is just one example of the “dieting” cycle that so many fall into. So why not break the cycle with small and simple lifestyle changes that can greatly impact your waistline and your overall health?
Once you remove the word “dieting” from your language, you can evaluate your present consumption and determine small and simple goals that become lifestyle changes- changes that you can maintain for a long period of time. One such change is proper portion control. Learn to read food labels and portion food accordingly. A great resource for learning this www.choosemyplate.gov. Speaking of healthy plates, that is another small change that can make an impact. Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables can lead to lasting health changes. Recommendations state that half your plate should be fruits and vegetables. Next, think about your beverage choices. Beverage calories are sometimes looked over, but can easily add up. If you start your day with a large sweetened coffee, add some juice, soda or energy drinks on top of that each day, you could easily be pushing 600-700 calories in beverages alone! By decreasing the sugar sweetened beverages and increasing water, you can easily save calories.
Those those starting out in their journey to make some dietary changes in the New Year, here are a few recommendations to get you started. Spend 1-2 weeks writing down or logging in some way every food and beverage you eat/drink. Take the time to start reading labels and accurately write down portions. If you use a smartphone, there are plenty of applications that you can insert this data into and obtain how many calories, how much fat, etc. that you consumed throughout the day. Consider this your baseline information and use what you find to set 1-2 small goals to start with. Making too many changes at one time may be overwhelming, so we recommend giving yourself time to make a few changes and then build on those slowly over time. Portion control and beverage intake are great places to start. By simply working on learning and controlling portions, there is no reason to cut your favorite foods from your diet, just modify the amount and frequency and you will likely see results.
A New Year is the perfect time to set new goals. We hope that you make 2017 your healthiest year yet! If you need additional resources or have questions, please do not hesitate to call our office at 419-221-5035.