Reach your New Year’s goal

Published 1:52 am Friday, December 30, 2011

If you ask the Average Joe (or Jane) about his New Year’s resolutions, chances are losing weight is going to be toward the top of the list, as each year seemingly countless Americans resolve to shed the extra pounds they’re carrying.

“While losing weight to get back into a favorite pair of jeans or to feel better at an upcoming special event can be satisfying, losing weight through eating healthy can yield many more rewards” said Melissa Davis MSN, APN, RN CCO at Andalusia Regional Hospital. “It can reduce your risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It can also help improve your overall health by boosting energy, sharpening memory and stabilizing mood.”

As you move forward with a commitment to healthier eating in 2012, Davis offered these tips for success:

• Keep it simple. Instead of being a slave to calorie counting, think of your diet in terms of color, freshness and variety. Identify healthy foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate those foods.

• Start slowly. Rather than changing the way you eat overnight, try making one or two healthy changes each week. Perhaps this is the week you commit to drinking fewer soft drinks and eating a salad with dinner each night.

• Be realistic. Maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to eat well all of the time. Remember to allow yourself the occasional indulgence, so that you don’t feel deprived – setting yourself up for failure.

• Consider your portions carefully. When eating out, consider choosing an appetizer instead of an entrée, or share a meal with a friend. It can also be helpful to review a restaurant’s nutritional information online in advance of your visit.

At home, use smaller plates and under-serve yourself – you can always get more if you’re still hungry.

• Savor every bite. Focus on your food by sitting at a table, rather than in front of the TV or computer. Eat slowly, as it takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough.

• Plan ahead. Prepare and eat your own food whenever possible, so that you can control what you’re eating and how much of it you consume. For lunch, consider brown bagging it with fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat yogurts and cheeses, whole wheat breads and lean meats. For dinner, pick a few easy, healthy recipes and build a meal schedule around them.

• Stock up on healthy recipe basics, like recipe and soup starters such as garlic, onions, carrots and celery; Fresh and dried herbs and spices; Healthy fats and oils for cooking, such as olive oil and canola oil; salad fixings, such as lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, nuts and dried fruits; beans such as lentils, black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans; brown rice, white Basmati rice and whole wheat pasta; fresh and/or frozen fruits and vegetables; frozen fruit and berries to make desserts; and unsalted nuts, single serving bags of low-fat crackers/chips, and low-fat gelatin and pudding cups for snacking.

“It’s also important to eat a high protein breakfast each and every morning – even if you don’t feel hungry. It gets your metabolism going,” Davis said. “Eating smaller meals throughout the day can also help keep your energy level up, while helping prevent binge eating.”