Guide to healthy eating

It’s a New Year and there’s no better time than now to take on a new approach to healthy eating. By now you’ve heard it all, eat small frequent meals, drink lots of water and eat more protein, but this general advice doesn’t always work for everyone and could be the reason why you seem to have the same New Year’s resolutions at the start of every year.

Let’s do things differently in 2015. Here’s your 2015 Ultimate Guide to Healthy Eating.

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1) Ditch the new year’s resolution

Every year you make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, eat healthy foods and begin exercising. Statistics show that by the end of January, only 64% of those who made resolutions are still hanging in there, and by 6 months, that number drops to 44%.

Only 8% of those who make resolutions actually achieve their resolutions. This year, don’t make any huge resolutions. Set small attainable goals that you start now, before January 1st, then keep them going as the New Year rolls in.

It’s important that your goals are small and measurable. Instead of saying “I am going to eat healthier”, say “I am going to include protein, grains and veggies at lunch and dinner. Then when you’ve mastered that, set another goal such as “I am going to eat a fruit at the end of dinner as dessert instead of cake”. You get the idea. These small changes will add up to big results.

2) Get familiar with my plate

There’s no magic in creating healthy meals. Use the MyPlate diagram as a guide to how to create your plate for each of your meals. The size of your plate should be 8-9 inches. Divide the plate in half, filling one half with lots of veggies (cooked and raw). The other half should be further divided with a quarter of the plate filled with lean protein, and a quarter with a whole grain.

Add a dairy (such as a glass of milk) to the side of the plate, and finish the meal off with a fruit. While healthy fats don’t appear on the MyPlate, they should be incorporated into your meals by way of olive oil or sliced avocado added to your salad.

3) Makeover your mindset

In addition to making over your plate, consider making over your mindset. If you continue to think as a dieter thinks, the moment you eat something you deem as “bad” for you, is the moment that your hard work and progress will take several steps backwards. Or worse, you’ll throw in the towel.

Begin to realize that no diet is going to work for losing the weight and keeping it off. The key is to shift your mindset away from the dieter’s mentality. Not an easy feat, I know, if you’ve been dieting for years. Yet, this is one of the most important and powerful things you can do for yourself as you pave the way to healthy eating.

4) Don’t leave home without it!

Breakfast that is the most important meal of the day. After fasting overnight, your body needs to be fueled for the day to come. Studies show that those people who eat breakfast perform better at work and at school. It’s best to include at least 3 food groups from MyPlate in your breakfast meal.

For example oatmeal with chopped apple and walnuts along with a Greek yogurt. Or, a veggie omelet wrap with a glass of milk. Don’t undermine this very important meal of the day.

5) Aim for 3-5 healthy fat servings per day

Many people are afraid to eat fat and they avoid it at all costs. This is a mistake. You need essential fatty acids to help make hormones and to transport, store and absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat also provides insulation and protection for your organs and keeps your skin soft and your hair shiny and full of life.

In general, try to include a minimum of 3 servings per day of added healthy fat. One serving is equal to one teaspoon of olive oil, 1 tbsp. nut butter, 1 tbsp. hummus, 1 ounce avocado or 1 ounce of nuts.

6) Journal your food intake

Studies show that one of the most effective tools to help you achieve weight loss is to document what you eat each day. This allows you to plan ahead, review what you’ve eaten at the end of each day and set new goals for the next day. It’s about staying accountable to yourself and increasing your awareness.

Pick up a fun looking journal that could fit into your purse or backpack, write down what you eat and drink, where you are when you eat, and what are you feeling. Review your journal at the end of the day and you will learn a lot about yourself and the foods you choose.

your 2015 ultimate guide to eating healthy

7) Discover your food triggers

Do you eat when you are bored? Lonely? Sad? What foods do you turn to when feeling emotional? While it’s best to learn to distinguish between emotional hunger and physical hunger, it is also important to set your environment up for success.

So, if those chocolate kisses call your name, put them away where you cannot see them. Out of sight, out of mind. Understanding your food triggers will help you take charge of your food choices.

8) Identify your food likes and dislikes

Don’t eat foods that you don’t like because you think they are healthy and you have to eat them. Instead, figure out what foods within each food group you like and learn new ways to prepare them. If you eat what you love, and keep it interesting, you are more likely to include them in your healthy eating plan on a permanent basis.

9) Move it daily!

No need to torment yourself in the gym or endure hours of boring exercise. Part of your guide to healthy eating is a healthy attitude towards exercise and activity. Start by being as active as possible in your everyday life (think stairs instead of the elevator), and then move into a more formal regimen for yourself consisting of a workout that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, it won’t last for long.

Do you prefer running, brisk walking, Pilates, yoga? Before investing in various home programs, consider taking exercise DVDs out of the library to see what you like and feel comfortable with. Set a goal to move your body every day, even if it’s for 10 minutes to start. Slowly increase your time in 5 minute increments. Before you know it, you’ll be moving 30 -45 minutes each day and loving it.

10) Snooze to lose

This year, set a goal for yourself to get a least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Sleeping less than 6 hours has been shown to lead to an increase in your hunger hormone, called ghrelin, and a decrease in your satiety hormone, called leptin.

This leads to feeling hungry more often and turning to foods high in sugar and fat which result in weight gain. If you only get 5 hours of sleep per night, start slowly and plan to get one additional hour.

When you are comfortably getting 6 hours per night, plan again to add one more additional hour. You will more likely reach the recommended 8 hours per night if you go slowly, rather than setting a goal that is more difficult to achieve.

There you have it. Your 2015 Ultimate Guide to Healthy Eating and Living. Here’s to a healthy a happy New Year.

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