This is the year to make one of your new year’s resolutions and keep it — eating healthy as a priority.
You can start as early as now, during the holidays, and take your healthy eating habits into the new year.
1. Make Protein the focus
Holiday party spreads may offer a plethora of dips, chips and vegetable or fruit platters, but one way to actually fill up and feel satisfied when faced with all those endless little bites is to make protein one of your plate’s primary features. Higher-protein diets increase satiety (compared to lower-protein diets), meaning you’re more satisfied and less likely to overeat. Opt for plant-, fish- or animal-based proteins, egg-based dishes, sliced meats or cheeses, bean salads or bean-based dips, yogurts and nut mixes. Then add the sides of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains or finger foods.
2. Drink more water, before a meal and after a meal.
Drinking water before, during, and after a meal will help your body break down the food you eat more easily. This will help you digest food more effectively and get the most out of your meals. In addition to helping with food breakdown, water also helps dissolve vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from your food. It then delivers these vitamin components to the rest of your body for use. Water carries helpful nutrients and oxygen to your entire body. Reaching your daily water intake will improve your circulation and have a positive impact on your overall health.
3. Go meatless all day for one day a week.
Ample research shows that plant-based diets promote health. Go meatless for one meal a day to add some variety to your plates and enjoy foods that can help lower blood cholesterol levels, promote blood sugar control and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. This may mean having a black bean burger instead of a beef patty, topping salads with chickpeas instead of grilled chicken or steak, or having a vegetable stir-fry over brown rice with roasted tofu instead of shrimp for dinner. If your friend or family holiday parties tend to go heavy on the meat-based entrees, try balancing your day with a plant-based lunch or breakfast.
4. Get some sleep.
We all try to cram as much into one day as possible. The stress of managing so many things at one time can have a huge impact on your ability to sleep. Sleeping does a body good in more ways than one. Adequate sleep is associated with better stress-management abilities and a healthy balance of hunger and satiety hormones (ghrelin and leptin, respectively). Inadequate sleep, which is defined as less than the recommended seven to nine hours per night, may lead to changes in appetite and mood. On the flip side, chronic high stress levels may impact quality of sleep. It can be a vicious cycle. Develop a sleep routine to help reduce stress levels before bedtime and improve sleep quality. Yes, that might mean putting the phone down one full hour before going to bed.
5. Be conscious of everything you put into your body.
Check the labels. Look at the calorie count, the carbs, the fat, the sugars. Even when something that sounds delicious has low calories, it could have high carbs, high fat, high sugars. If you’re counting calories, also check the other numbers before you make the choice. Mindful eating will automatically find you gravitating to health-promoting food. Savoring each bite will slow down the speed with which you eat and cut down portion size. Being mindful of physical activities that are enjoyable will let you meet your fitness goals without the sensation of torture. If extended to all aspects of the day, mindfulness makes life more complete.
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