“I’m going to be healthy.” “I want to eat better next year.”
“This is the year I will pay more attention to nutrition.”
Some of the most common New Year’s Resolutions made year-in and year-out relate to health and nutrition. They’re also some of the hardest to keep. But Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Nutrition Educators are here to help!
When resolutions are too general, it’s hard to know where to start. Likewise, ambitiously making huge overhauls to eating patterns can be a difficult long-term commitment.
“Taking small steps towards a new diet plan helps you stick to your commitment,” said IFFS Nutrition Programs Manager Katherine Moser.
“We like to use the analogy of training for a marathon,” added Moser. “You don’t wake up one day after not running for years and say ‘Today I’m going to run a marathon!’ You’d probably end up hurting yourself or not finishing the race (which can hurt your self-esteem). Instead, if you wanted to run a marathon, you would train and take it day-by-day, week-by-week until you were ready for the big race. This methodology can be applied to nutrition – set a goal and take small steps each day to reach it.”
IFFS Nutrition programs teach participants different small steps that can help anyone ‘train’ for the better overall health. If your goal for 2015 involves healthier food habits, here are three simple changes you can try:
Challenge yourself to make half the grains you eat each day whole grains. That can mean subbing your traditional bagel for a whole grain bagel at breakfast, or buying a different kind of pasta or rice next time you grocery shop.
Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel – the bran, germ, and endosperm. The process of ‘milling’ removes the bran and germ and results in refined grains. Milling gives grains a finer texture and improves shelf life, but many important nutrients (such as fiber, iron, and many B vitamins) are taken away in the refining process. Whole grains are important because they have higher levels of fiber, which is good for your digestive tract and makes you feel fuller, longer. White bread is digested quicker in your stomach and leaves you hungry for more.
Beware of labeling tricks though. Labels such as “multigrain,” “100% wheat,” or “seven grain” are often not whole grain. Similar to breads that are brown in color, which could be due to molasses or other added ingredients. The first ingredient in the nutrition facts should always be a whole grain.
It’s the most important meal of the day, so set your alarm clock back an extra five minutes and make time to kick-start your metabolism in the morning. Yes, sleep is important, but eating breakfast helps make us be more alert and focused, and less likely to overeat throughout the day.
Challenge yourself to eat a breakfast that incorporates at least three of the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, & dairy. This is the best way to consume as many nutrients as possible within the most important meal of the day. If you eat a breakfast with protein and fiber (which you can get from whole grains) you will start the day with adequate energy and stay fuller, longer.
Eating breakfast should not mean hitting the drive-through on your way to work. Although fast food meals may be convenient and large in size, they rarely have the components of a balanced meal that will provide you with nutrients and energy. Fast food meals contain high fat, calorie, and sodium content – and that doesn’t even include a drink or side that would come in a “value meal.”
Eating two or three portions of homemade breakfast frittata would be a better choice for a breakfast than having just one of the sausage egg biscuits. For convenience, try baking individual frittatas in a muffin pan. The cook time will be quicker and these make great individually portioned “grab and go” meals. Bonus: this recipe also freezes well.
Make 2015 the year you cut down on added sugars in your everyday foods and drinks. Instead of adding sugar to food and beverages, use honey or add flavorings such as vanilla.
Flavor your own drinks naturally by adding fruit to water instead of flavored powder mix-ins. You can also try adding a little bit of 100% juice with seltzer water. This gives the illusion that you are drinking soda without all of those calories. If you’re a big soda or sweet tea drinker, start small by swapping just one sugary drink a day.
Satisfy your sweet tooth fix without the added calories and preservatives by making our 1-ingredient banana ice cream. Simply freeze bananas and put them in the food processor to blend. The natural sugar content is so high in this fruit that the consistency of the ice cream is very thick like slow-churned ice cream. This recipe is healthy, and additive-free!
Are you making any health or nutrition New Year’s Resolutions? Let us know which small change(s) you’re making for 2015 in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to give you support and more ideas throughout the year!
By Lindsay Humbert, IFFS Digital Media Specialist. Contact: Lindsay@FoodShuttle.org