Sunday, January 4, 2015

A practical Approach to a Common NYE Resolution: Eat Healthier

I can’t believe that the New Year is here! But I was waiting for it. I could not wait for 2014 to be over. For myself, though I had made a major accomplishment and life change in 2014, the year just had more than it’s fair of ups and downs. However, that is a whole other post in and of itself in a blog of a different genre.
A common NYE resolution is to eat healthier. Let’s face it, whether it’s our waistline, challenges during pregnancy (gestational diabetes, or high blood pressure), a bad report at the doctor’s, or just not feeling ourselves, we all reach a point where we feel out of control and want to regain it. For others, they may want to avoid all of the above, nip things early, and have a desire to take better care of themselves.

Aside from those who have allergies, is the ever growing gluten free movement as well as the vegan dieting movement. To be brutally honest, (while also running the risk of offending someone) unless you have those allergies or beliefs I would not bother. As for vegan dieting, it can be quite dangerous if you don’t do your research or consult a nutritionist to make sure that you are supplementing yourself properly. This is so that you are making sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs and not depleting itself. Dieting in and of itself is risky business, along with that sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t; what works for some or one may not work for others. One of the downsides to “net” and “pop” culture is that the safety of various diets is not tagged or noted in posts. However, a general rule of thumb, if it doesn’t sound safe then it probably isn’t. I had a distant relative who ended up in the E.R. doing a lemonade diet. And another set who decided to go on a cabbage diet and ended up with all types of gastrointestinal discomforts. I am not condemning anyone, but if it doesn’t sound safe, don’t bother. It’s not worth it to end up in the E.R. getting fed nutrients and fluids via IV or to beat down your body.

I am going to offer some simple yet practical advice for those who want to eat healthier.

1. Everything in Moderation/ Baby Steps
For instance, maybe you start out by limiting fast food or take out to once a week and one meal only. Specifically, pizza on a Friday night for dinner. If you’re tired and not up to cooking, try already prepared healthy options at your grocery store like rotisserie chicken. Avoid too many processed and frozen foods during the week. They are usually high in sodium and bloated with preservatives (calorie counts can be deceiving).

2. Use Less Salt. Look to Other Spice And Herb Alternatives
I often use Kosher salt when cooking because a little bit goes a long way. So, ultimately I end up using less salt. One to two teaspoons of kosher salt can handle large crockpots, stockpots, as well as pounds of meat. Venturing out with various herbs and spices will also limit the amount of salt you use while helping you to enhance various flavors. Vinegar and lemon can also be used as substitutes from time to time.

3. Back to the Basics
Most of us were first introduced to this guy (The Food pyramid) in elementary school. It’s an excellent starting point for beginner’s to follow and is all inclusive! It’s a great model for daily balanced meal preparation.
The Food Pyramid
(Image Source: Theta Health)

4. Portion Control
Hand in hand with the food pyramid, controlling the portion that you eat is a good method. Using the palm of your hand as a guide may be simple but its effective. Eat until you are satisfied and your hunger is satiated. Don’t wait until you feel as though someone will have to roll you out of a place.

5. You’re Not In preschool Anymore (Get Over Your Hang Up With Vegetables)!
If you have one, get over your hang up with vegetables, it’s just not nutritionally feasible let alone healthy. Try experimenting with salads to start. Don’t always feel so bad if you head for the ranch or blue cheese, at least you are eating your vegetables. But truth be told, a little bit of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), lemon and dried herbs is good stuff coupled with salad! Vinegar is also good when fused with oil.

6. Cut Back On Sugar By Eating More Fruit
Whenever you’re craving sugar or candy eat a piece of fruit. Also don’t be fooled by the false sense of security provided by sugar substitutes like aspartame (which Yoplait recently pulled from their “Light” line and for good reasons).

7. Water and Lemon Wedge…
Never hurt nobody! Yes, I used a double negative lol. Who cares if you look cheap? Order lemon and water with your meal. It helps you digest your meal better. Ordering water instead will help you avoid high sugar filled sodas and sweet teas. Drinking water daily, you may notice that you feel better, more energized, more hydrated, and you may even gain a clearer complexion.

8. Experiment With Healthy Snacks…
Until you find one you like. Try granola, yogurt, trail mix, various dry or mixed nuts, dehydrated veggie chips, hummus and bean dips, or cheese and crackers. Once you find healthy options that you like, you can sub them in as your go to munchies in place of chips, cheesy puffs and other stuff that may not be as healthy.
Last but not least, no one is perfect. We all have our “kryptonite”, comfort foods, and “poisons”, but we all have to start and maintain from somewhere.

“Happy and Healthy New Year” to all!

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