At the start of 2013, we boldly declare our New Year’s resolution, vowing to stick with it throughout the entire year no matter what the cost. And while those who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions, sticking to anything for 365 days can prove to be quite a challenge. Like most years, many Americans have vowed to lose weight in 2013—in fact, 38% have set a weight-related New Year’s resolution and the number five resolution is to “stay fit and healthy,” according to StatisticBrain.com.
Staying healthy and losing weight are important, regardless of the resolution you’ve set. Making small changes in your food choices and lifestyle has the potential to make a big impact on your future health. Here are five food resolutions you might actually keep in 2013—and how, and why, you should stick with them.
Resolution: To Eat a More Colorful Diet
Typically the more colorful the food, the more it’s packed with vitamins and minerals. Blue and purple foods like blueberries, grapes, plums, figs and raisins are antioxidant rich, while red foods such as beets, apples, red cabbage, strawberries and cranberries, are chocked full of lycopene, which may help reduce the risk of cancer. While orange foods like peaches, mangos and sweet potatoes contain vitamins that promote healthy vision green foods like asparagus, kale, broccoli and avocado contain lutein and indoles that are known for protecting cancer and promoting healthy eyes.
To eat a more colorful diet in 2013, begin by adding fruits and vegetables you enjoy as snacks and parts of meals. Begin each recipe search with the goal of finding a dish in which vegetables or fruits play a main role. Work from the beginning to integrate more color into each meal, and learn to expand your horizon of acceptance when it comes to fruits and veggies. Guiding Stars, a nutritional guidance program that gives foods 1, 2, or 3 star ratings based upon its nutrition and ingredients, offers a variety of colorful recipes. Try making Guiding Stars’ green Brussels Sprouts Stir Fry or orange Sweet Potato Chilaquiles.
Resolution: Learn to Love Greek Non-Fat Yogurt
Whether or not you love plain, Greek non-fat yogurt, it can be used as a substitute for cooking and baking, helping to cut the fat and high calories found in dips, soups, sauces, main entrees and desserts. Greek yogurt has more protein per serving than regular yogurt, and when you choose the plain version, has little to no added sugar. Try substituting Greek non-fat yogurt for any recipe that calls for sour cream, or in place of oil in baked goods. Or make a recipe that features Greek non-fat yogurt as one of the main ingredients, such as Herbed Blue Cheese Dressing and Dip.
Resolution: To Eat At Least One Serving of Vegetables with Lunch and Dinner
Vegetables provide optimal nourishment for very few calories. Those interested in weight loss, or maintaining a healthy lifestyle in 2013, should have a vegetable-centric diet. From asparagus to broccoli to radishes, each vegetable offers unique nutrients and vitamins that the human body needs to function.
Adding at least one serving of vegetables to both lunch and dinner is not only an attainable goal, but also an easy way to consume water-soluble items including B-complex vitamins, biotin, choline, vitamin C and folic acid. Guiding Stars’ Cucumber Guacamole Salad and BLT Pasta Salad are great options for make-ahead lunches, which many find the most difficult meal to add vegetables to. Whether you make a salad or steamed veggies to go with dinner, or to make vegetables the star of the meal, adding one or more servings of veggies will ensure you get the nutrients needed to support a healthy New Year’s resolution.
Resolution: To Always Have a “Good Fat” or with Your Snack
Snacks are the key to maintaining energy throughout out the day and controlling your appetite. A well-made snack can add great nutrition to any diet, and even satisfy cravings or hunger that prompts overeating. While “fat” is often a tabooed word, monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids can actually lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Healthy fats also provide benefits related to bone health, prevention of certain types of cancer and an improved ability to think and learn. Try adding a “good fat” or protein with each snack you eat throughout the day. The following foods are chocked full of healthy fats:
• Nuts including almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts
• Seeds including chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower
• Oils including canola, flaxseed and olive
• Produce including avocados and olives
• Seafood including mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna
Resolution: Limit Consumption of White Carbohydrates—And Go Brown Instead
If you are serious about creating a healthier lifestyle and eating habits in 2013, consuming more “whole grains” is likely on your immediate to-do list. An attainable New Year’s goal to eat more brown and less white carbohydrates can reduce your chance of stroke by 30-36%, reduce your chance of type 2 diabetes by 21-30%, reduce your risk of heart disease by 25-28% and help you maintain a consistent weight, according to the WholeGrainsCouncil.org.
To make the switch from white to brown, simply work to substitute a couple whole grain options for what you currently consume. Ingredients such as whole wheat or whole oat flour should be near the top of the ingredient list, with items labeled as “what” sometimes not containing the nutritional benefits promised by true whole grains.
A healthy 2013 is not far from your reach, especially if you choose goals that are attainable and realistic. Whether you are well on your way to reaching your current food-related New Year’s resolution, or have already fallen off track, remember that building healthy eating habits should be a part of your lifelong goal to build a healthy lifestyle.
As a Registered Dietician, Allison Stowell enables individuals to make positive, sustainable changes in their eating habits by stressing conscious eating, improving relationships with food and offering a non-diet approach for reaching and maintaining ideal body weight. She joins the Guiding Stars team to help people in a number of sectors (grocery, hospitals, schools and universities) to understand how to use the Guiding Stars nutrition navigation program to make healthier food choices.