5 Healthy Resolutions to Ring in the New Year

It’s that time of year again…

Ever since Sam was in kindergarten we’ve been making New Year’s resolutions a family affair.  I would carefully record everyone’s plans on paper and stuff them away in a manila envelope until the next year. Then we would look back on what we had hoped to accomplish–and see how we measured up.

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This turned out to be more of a time capsule than a useful tool for actually meeting hoped for goals.  It’s been interesting–and often worth a laugh or two–to look back on what was important in our lives the year before, but we’re ready to crank it up this year. Take it to the next level.

We’re ready to try to accomplish something.

And if you and your loved ones want to be healthier, happier, and better looking (if it’s possible) than you currently are, here are a few resolutions that you could stick with–for life.

I can think of 5 to choose from that would make a big difference:

1.  Eliminate soda, sports drinks, flavored waters and juice.  Number one place to begin.  Did you know Americans consume twice the recommended amount of sugar?  And over half of that is from beverages.

2   Eat more fruits and vegetables.  The most nutrient dense foods.  Eat your daily requirement (5 or more, preferably more) for all the vitamins, minerals and fiber–filling you up without all the fat and calories.

3. Watch portion size.  Resolve to use a smaller plate at mealtimes and/or don’t go back for seconds.

4. Focus on real food.  Food that’s closest to its natural state without all the vitamins,  minerals and fiber stripped away in processing.  Try to eat a serving or more at every meal.

5. Replace white with whole grains.  Whole grains help you maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of lots of dietary diseases.  Replace one refined grain item at a time with a whole grain variety.

Making resolutions is a snap.  Keeping them is where the rubber meets the road. Willpower only ever took me so far…  Try these ideas to maximize your success.

  • Limit yourself.  Choose only one or two to keep your focus strong.
  • Keep them close.  Literally.  No more manila envelopes in drawers in this house.  I’m thinking about pinning our resolutions on the cork board next to the refrigerator.  Out of sight really is out of mind.

And check out the Healthy Children website for age appropriate nutrition resolutions suitable for younger members of the household.  Remember, our children learn from our example.  Trying counts and praise goes a long way towards reinforcing good habits.

Have a happy and healthy new year!

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Do this one thing 50% of the time

Eat 100% whole grains.  At least half of the time.  Not in addition to refined grains but in place of them.  It’s that simple.

Is it really that important?

Eating whole grains will do a world of good by helping you maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure.  It also reduces the risk for a whole slew of diet related diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel.  All the stuff that’s good for us.  Dietary fiber, minerals, and many of the B vitamins.

Examples include:

  • whole wheat
  • oatmeal
  • bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • whole cornmeal
  • brown rice

Examples of refined grains:

  • white flour (most breads, crackers, pastas, etc.)
  • degerminated cornmeal
  • white rice.

Try this:  Replace one refined grain item at a time with a whole grain variety.  Give the family time to adjust their taste buds before introducing more new foods.

Mix it Up:  In pasta dishes, use half whole wheat and half regular pasta to win over the unconvinced.  Or half brown rice and half white rice.

Experiment:  Use a 50/50 ratio of whole wheat to white flour in baked goods.  I think baked treats, pancakes and pizza dough are a good place to start because sweetener and cheese are good distracters.

Think Outside the Box:  Lots of items come in 100% whole wheat including tortillas, wraps, crackers, cereal, etc.  And there are lots of lesser known whole grain options to try as well:  quinoa, farro, millet and spelt just to name a few.

Repeat to self, “Change is good especially where the health of my family is concerned.”

It’s not the end of the world or even the end of your favorite weekend breakfast scone.  I, for one, would never give up our local bakery’s stellar sourdough bread. I just won’t make it a regularly scheduled part of my day.  It’s a treat.  And when I take that first delectable bite–with real butter–I’ll savor it.

It’s not about giving anything up, except perhaps a dress size or a diet related disease.  And I expect that after a while you’ll come to love whole grains, not just because they’re good for you, but because they taste great.  Remember, it’s a learning curve.

I love the bottom line.  We don’t have to give up our refined pleasures–just moderate them.  You’ll enjoy them all the more because of it.  The goal is 50% of 100% whole grains–or more if you’re really motivated.

This is math even I can do, and that’s saying something.