Nutrition for Life - 2018


New Year, New You! 12 Resolutions for a Healthy 2018

By Parul Kharod

The beginning of a new year brings renewed motivation to make changes and be better than last year. Here are some pointers for improvements:

1. Be SMART!

Start the New Year with SMART goals! SMART stands for goals that are: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound. Setting “SMART" goals can also help you achieve bigger goals you may want to set for yourself over time. Set realistic goals so that you are not overwhelmed or disappointed.

2. Have a plan

If your goal is to eat breakfast every day, make sure your grocery shopping list has all the necessary supplies for a healthy breakfast. If your goal is to walk 10,000 steps per day, make sure you have a pedometer to measure the steps. If you have a busy work week, make a couple of extra meals on the weekend. Planning ahead saves time, money and energy!

3. Have a kitchen makeover

If your fridge and pantry are stocked with healthy food, then it is easy to eat healthy food! Get rid of unhealthy snacks and sodas. Clean out your kitchen and start fresh. Invest in a crock pot or an Instant Pot to save time.

4. Sharpen your cooking skills

Maybe you have gotten into a habit of eating out because you don't cook. Make a resolution to learn some basic healthy dishes that are easy to cook. Use a crock-pot/slow cooker. Take a cooking class. Look for ideas on the internet; visit blogs or sites such as Pinterest or YouTube. Cooking at home doesn't only save time and money, but also lowers the amount of sodium and trans-fats you get when eating out.

5. Eat breakfast every day!

Breakfast literally means, 'break the fast'! Waking up and going about your day on an empty stomach is like trying to run a car without gas. It is very important to fuel your body in the morning with fiber-rich foods that keep you fuller for a longer time. Stay away from boxed cereals, as most of them are highly processed and have a lot of sugar. Choose more whole grains. Do not skip meals and make sure to have a good schedule for all meals.

6. Eat more vegetables

Eat a rainbow! The natural colors present in fruits and vegetables have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and many other chronic conditions. Focus on fruits and vegetables as snacks. Make half your plate full of vegetables. Have two sabzi's or have a salad or soup. Limit fruits to 1-2 servings per day; increase the amount of non-starchy vegetables.

7. Experiment with different whole grains and beans

Whole grains and beans are important sources of many nutrients, including dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate), and minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium). Whole grains and legumes can help balance blood sugars; help reduce blood cholesterol levels; and lower risk of heart disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Fiber-containing foods such as whole grains and beans help provide a feeling of fullness and act as pre-biotics that help improve the gut bacteria.

8. Eat more healthy fats

Include sources of omega-3 fats such as walnuts, ground flax seeds, and chia seeds. Eat a handful of nuts or 1-2 tbsp. natural nut butters as part of a snack. Avoid foods made with dalda, hydrogenated fats and palmolein oil. When cooking, choose small amounts of olive oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, or other nut/seed oils. Limit fried foods and avoid adding large amounts of oil when cooking.

9. Drink adequate amount of water

Make sure to drink at least 2 liters of water. Sip slowly so you are hydrated through the day. Flavor the water with a slice of orange or lemon, or add mint or ginger. Avoid juices and avoid beverages with added artificial sweeteners and/or colors and other chemicals.

10. Find time and activities to reduce stress

Stress can make your blood sugars go up and upset the internal balance causing physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues, or weight gain. Try yoga and meditation. Find activities that are relaxing for you and schedule them on a regular basis. You may be into arts & crafts, or you may simply be happy with reading or a nice walk or a massage!

11. Be more active

The benefits of regular exercise and have been proven beyond doubt. The hormones generated by physical activity help you lower stress and reduce the risk of many diseases. Whether you like going to the gym or working out solo, plan on being active daily. Even small changes such as taking the stairs and parking your car farther away make a big difference! Remember to Eat Smart and Move More.

12. Keep a journal

Writing a daily journal helps keep you on track. It also gives you feedback on how your day was, and what can you do to improve it. A daily journal also helps you keep track of food intolerances, blood sugar highs and lows, and also helps improve habits such as snacking, eating out or drinking enough water.

Make a plan to be more mindful about your daily lives. Make a resolution to eat mindfully and live mindfully with gratitude and compassion for a peaceful, happy and healthy new year.

-- Parul Kharod, MS, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist and works as a Clinical Dietitian with Outpatient Nutrition Services at WakeMed Hospital in Cary and Raleigh. She can be reached at parulkharod@gmail.com