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Changing eating habits for a healthier New Year

Do you have a New Year’s resolution?

Do you want to eat healthier, lose weight or maybe quit smoking or drinking alcohol?

Any of these resolutions require behavior change and while many people have the desire to change, they have difficulty putting it into action. The desire to change “I should eat better” needs to be put into action words “I will eat better,” followed by planning and preparation.

Any change is difficult, so it is important to start with one change at a time.

Eating habits often are the most challenging to change due to convenience, lack of education, allergies and cost. However, I believe it’s the best place to start.

Nutrition recommendations and healthy eating guidelines can be overwhelming when compared to current eating habits.

But remember, start with small changes.

If you are looking to improve your nutrition and eating behaviors, look at the guidelines and choose what you are willing and able to do. It is important to focus on what you can eat rather than what you can’t eat.

I encourage patients to look at their fruits and vegetables first. Eating a minimum of two and a half cups daily, whether fresh, frozen or canned, is recommended. However, eating fresh fruit and vegetables is best.

You need a minimum of 4 ounces of whole grains daily. This includes breads, cereal, pasta and rice. However, keep in mind that white bread is not a whole grain. When looking for true whole grains, check the nutrition facts label for 2 grams of fiber per ounce of bread and 3 grams of fiber per serving of cereal.

In addition to fruits, vegetables and whole grains, dairy products and protein are other good foods to include in your diet. Keep saturated fat intake to a minimum and try to avoid trans-fat intake, if at all possible.

Cut back on foods and drinks with added sugars or caloric sweeteners and try to reduce sodium intake.

Lastly, always think moderation when consuming alcohol.

Overwhelming? I thought so. Remember, there is a lot to consider when making changes to your nutrition.

Again, I recommend you think small and make one change at a time for long term success.

OK – so what to eat?

In order to help those of you who plan to take a small first step in changing your nutrition behaviors, I wanted to provide a little guide on what to eat in a day. This gives you an idea of good foods that will power your body and help you become healthier and happier.

Breakfast

(Choose one per meal)

  • Whole grain toast with peanut butter
  • High fiber cereal with non-fat milk
  • Boiled egg with beans and tortillas
  • Oatmeal with walnuts and sprinkle of brown sugar
  • Lunch

  • Sandwich on whole grain bread (tuna or peanut butter the healthiest)
  • Vegetables sticks with hummus or light dressing
  • Fruit
  • Or

  • Leftovers from healthy dinner
  • Dinner

  • Lean meat (palm size/quarter plate)
  • Starch (palm size if watching calories/quarter plate)
  • Vegetables (double palm size/half plate)
  • Snacks

    (Limit to about 100 calories each and choose one at a time)

  • Yogurt
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables with hummus
  • String cheese
  • Dozen nuts
  • For more information on how to change your eating habits and behaviors, I would encourage making an appointment with your primary care physician or a nutritionist.

    Helpful links:

    http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

    http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/Dietary- Guidelines2010.pdf

    http://www.eatright.org/Public/

    http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/

    http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#




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