healthy eating

Your 5-step guide for eating healthier this year

Looking to improve your health this new year? Start in the kitchen.

Adopting sustainable healthy eating habits – not short-term fad diets or unrealistic restrictions on food – can help you shed unwanted weight, reduce your risk for disease and improve your overall well-being.

The good news is you don’t have to change everything about your diet to find success.

Here are a few easy ways to start eating better today:

1. Embrace fruits and veggies.

Your mom was right: eating your fruits and vegetables is important! Plant-based diets can significantly reduce your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Don’t know where to start? Dr. Gretchen Wells, director the UK Women’s Heart Health Program, suggests adjusting your favorite recipes to be more plant-based. They’ll still taste great, and they’ll be even healthier.

For example, trying making your chili with all beans, or prepare a stir-fry with tofu or edamame instead of chicken. Check out the rest of Dr. Wells’ tips for eating more fruits and vegetables.

2. Enjoy breakfast.

Start every day with a protein-packed healthy breakfast, such as low-fat yogurt and fruit or whole-grain cereal. Eating breakfast speeds up your metabolism and helps prevent unnecessary snacking later in the day.

3. Snack smarter.

Not all snacking is bad, however. Eating a healthy snack, such as an apple, low-fat yogurt, or pita and hummus, can help you feel full between meals and keep you from munching on unhealthy options.

4. Say so long to sugar and sodium.

Consuming too much sugar and sodium each day can increase your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.

Sodium comes from items such as breads and rolls, deli meats, pizza, cheese, pasta dishes, and condiments (like ketchup and mustard). Limit your daily sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams, which is equal to about one teaspoon.

Added sugar is found in items such as regular soft drinks and fruit drinks, candy and grain-based desserts like cakes, cookies and pies. Women should aim for no more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories of added sugar each day, while men should limit themselves to no more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories. Here are some simple ways to cut back on added sugar.

5. Don’t deprive yourself of the things you enjoy.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the foods and activities you love. The key is enjoying them in moderation.

For example, instead of vowing to no longer eat out, focus on choosing healthier options (such as fish or chicken instead of red meat) when you do decide to go to a restaurant.

And use the 80-20 rule when it comes to enjoying foods that might not be considered healthy. Make 80 percent of your calories healthy and leave the remaining 20 percent for your favorite treats.


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