With the New Year steadily approaching, it’s time to take a look back at 2015. Did you hit your health goals? Are you getting close? It’s never too late to modify our eating, exercise and sleep patterns, especially around the holidays when an abundance of festive food makes its way into our kitchens, shows up unexpectedly at parties and lurks around office corners. The good news is you can still meet your 2015 health goals, have fun along the way and set yourself up for a new way of eating – and living – in the year to come.
Here are five ways to ring in optimal health in the New Year:
1. Decorate your plate: Aim for seven colors each day. Don’t forget to leave out your plate when you break out the bright and colorful holiday decorations this year. Prioritize dark leafy green salads and glazed carrots, or even try to find a way to get some deep purple beets in your next holiday potluck lineup. Seasonal pureed pumpkin, yams and sweet potatoes now make it easier than ever to sneak in immune-boosting beta-carotene. Be sure to keep this tradition going even after the lights and New Year’s noisemakers are put away.
2. Trim the fat: Embark on a new holiday tradition. Still ruminating over your Thanksgiving dinner?The good news is it’s never too late to start a new tradition that celebrates physical activity and the healthy basics – fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes – at your next gathering. The secret to healthful trailblazing: Make it fun, and make it festive!
3. Call the shots: Create a precision eating plan. Keep a food diary, and write down what you eat, the serving sizes and how you feel after you eat specific foods. Which foods help you satiate hunger, and which ones ramp up your appetite? Plan accordingly, and stock up on those that keep hunger at bay.
4. Prepare in advance: Share your favorite recipes. We’ve all been to gatherings with foods that could derail our health and fitness goals. To avoid this situation, make a healthful pit stop along the way. Pick up a veggie platter, or if you like to cook, try your hand at roasted Brussels sprouts or a bean salad. Nobody will know if your next “meatloaf” is actually a lentil loaf, a mix of fiber-packed lentils, beans, nuts and seeds. And if they do, encourage them to have a slice and share the recipe.
5. Reset your mindset: Give it 21 days. Still need help fine-tuning your diet? Getting fit and healthy is everyone’s No. 1 goal this year, for good reason. It’s hard to prioritize our health when other demands – family, work, and the holidays – take center stage. The easiest way to make your health goals a reality, for 2015 and beyond, is to make reaching for disease-fighting foods a daily habit. It takes 21 days to begin to retrain our brains. After a few weeks, everything falls into place. With Jan. 1 right around the corner, now is the perfect time to kickstart your health into high gear. Don’t wait another day.
If you need to help, visit NutritionMD.org for recipes or to learn more about the link between diet and health.