We are moving into the third week of January. Are you over the “slow” feeling that holiday overeating and drinking often bring on? I am finally starting to get back to my normal “go” state, and I hope you are feeling energetic as well!
I was honored to be asked to contribute an article to Naturally Savvy about Making Healthy Eating Fun in the New Year. The way I see it, if it isn’t fun, I won’t stick with it for long! Read the article online, as a PDF, or below. Enjoy!
It is estimated that when we set resolutions for the new year to follow better eating habits, we meet those goals only a mere 8% of the time. Some of the reasons why we might be failing to achieve our health goals include setting goals that are too strict and setting goals that are too far away from our current eating habits. Behavioral scientists have observed that humans tend to take the path of least resistance to avoid pain and suffering. This observation makes perfect logical sense, right? Then why do we set goals only to fail, and then perhaps beat ourselves up for our failure?
A potential cure for this pattern of setting unachievable goals leading to failure leading to dissatisfaction is to insert a “secret” ingredient into our goal setting process: fun! We are reminded that “adults are just grown up kids, and tend to be motivated by similar tactics such as games and even rhymes”. When working with kids in schools across the country, we suggest a set of simple rhymes that get kids excited about eating healthier. These rhymes just might have a higher “stickiness factor” that allow people to remember to follow them. They work for children and adults alike.
Celebrate a Healthy Plate
MyPlate is the nutritional icon that replaced the food pyramid of the 1990s. To complement MyPlate, Harvard released the Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate. A few of the take-aways from these healthy plates that may help you achieve a healthier new year include:
- Make half of your plate fruits and veggies.
Be sure to emphasize the veggies!
- Eat lean protein at each meal.
Include a protein source in every snack and meal throughout the day.
- Make your grains of choice whole grains.
While MyPlate asks for only half your grains to be whole, avoiding processed grains whenever possible is the best choice.
- Choose your beverage wisely.
Cut out the soda and sugary drinks. Kids should limit fruit juice to one cup per day. Harvard’s Healthy Plate highlights water, not dairy, as the beverage of choice.
Follow the Rainbow
We now know to fill half our plate with fruits and veggies. An additional guideline is to eat the rainbow when choosing fruits and veggies.
Foods’ natural colors often correlate to certain micronutrients:
- For example, red is associated with lycopene and heart health.
- Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables often are loaded with vitamin A, which supports your immune system as well as skin and vision health.
- Green is associated with folate and other B-vitamins as well as calcium, which is good for your bones and teeth and the digestive and cardiovascular systems.
- The blue and purple group will assure you a bounty of antioxidants, which support healthy aging.
- White is associated with potassium and fiber, found in veggies such as jicama, potatoes, and mushrooms.
- When you go to the grocery store, challenge yourself (and your kids!) to find different fruits and veggies in various colors. The minimum goal is to get in three colors, but the more, the healthier!
Rethink Your Drink
Our country is on a sugar-driven runaway train headed for disaster, and sugary drinks are greasing the rails. The average teenager consumes an estimated 34 teaspoons of added sugar every single day. Sugar consumption is linked to such maladies as tooth decay, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, a suppressed immune system, and stunted growth due to too little vitamin and mineral intake.
Finally the government has taken a stand with the new dietary guidelines released this month (January, 2016) and has asked the American population to limit sugar consumption to no more than 10% of total daily calories. That amounts to approximately 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar, meaning that drinking one can of soda will put you over the limit.
This message is a powerful one. Cut out soda as well as sports and energy drinks as they also contain a lot of sugar, artificial ingredients, and dyes. Reach for water instead. Water gives you a long-lasting hydration boost and contains no sugar, dyes, or artificial ingredients. The best part about water is that it is usually readily available and free.
The secret ingredient to setting goals for a healthier new year just might be a pinch of fun. Celebrate a Healthy Plate, follow the rainbow, and re-think your drink are places to start with a little added fun. Have a happy and healthy new year!
– See more at: http://naturallysavvy.com/eat/make-healthy-eating-fun-this-new-year#sthash.BprpdMvt.dpuf
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