As we look ahead to the new year, we begin to think more about what we would like to improve or simplify in our lives — eating healthier, moving more, getting enough sleep, taking time to enjoy family, a book, new hobby, etc.
The key is to not treat your resolutions as temporary goals and to start by making small changes that you can continue to apply to your life all year long.
Choose your eating style and think of nutrient-rich foods when putting together a meal or snack. Most eating styles are a combination of plant-based and protein-rich foods. Plant-based foods include whole fruits, veggies and whole grains that are fiber-rich, while the rest of your plate should include protein-rich foods like yogurt, cheese, seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds. Be sure to add a glass of fat free, low fat or lactose free milk to your meal as well.
MyPlate is an easy visual that provides a variety of ways to make a healthy plate, and a healthy plate can lead to a healthy immune system.
The key to wellness is to embrace healthy eating and physical activity as part of your daily routine. A good place to set healthy eating goals is the MyPlate app, which you can find at www.choosemyplate.gov. You can also download or use your favorite app if you like to track your progress for healthy eating, physical activity and more.
Try these tips: start your day with breakfast, be mindful of portion sizes and stock your kitchen with healthy choices like fruit on the counter, yogurt in the refrigerator and whole grain cereal in the pantry. Try new foods and pair them with some of your favorites like nuts, dried fruit and cheese or yogurt, nut butter and bananas. Dairy foods combined with plants provide a nutrient powerhouse — you can find more pairing suggestions here.
Did you know that cleaning the house, climbing stairs, chasing the kids, yard work and walking the dog all count as physical activity? According to the Physical Activity Alliance, it is recommended that children and adolescents (ages 6-17) get 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily and adults (ages 18-64) get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, plus two days a week of muscle strengthening activity. Remember to always check with your doctor first before beginning an exercise program.
From active play to daily workouts, or walking a trail at a local park, the bottom line is to take the time, turn off the screens and move more every day. Choose activities that you enjoy and you will begin to look forward to this part of your day. Some of the benefits that can come with regular exercise include better sleep, more energy, increased strength and endurance, and improved mental clarity.
Mark the start of this new year with safe and healthy routines that can carry over into the next year and beyond. Happy New Year!