Don't Make Radical Changes Too Quickly for the New Year - Set Obtainable Goals
By: Brooke Sawicki, MS, RD, LDN
The holidays are a busy time of year, often filled with many celebrations with work, friends, and family. These festivities tend to have more indulgent and delicious treats, like cakes and cookies. The holidays are a time to enjoy yourself and spend quality time with the ones you love.
Now that they are behind us, many people take the New Year as an opportunity to make changes and set new personal goals, physically, mentally and spiritually. The New Year is a great way to get refocused, especially with our health. However, many people take this to the extreme. "New Year, New You" does not need to equate to drastic changes. Setting simple, attainable goals for yourself is the best way to stay motivated and focused!
One way to do this is by incorporating more of The Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines focus on the importance of overall healthy eating patterns. They are not restrictive and do not place emphasis on eliminating entire food groups from our diet as many popular fad diets do. These diets more place an emphasis on incorporating foods that are rich in nutrients and offer your body the most benefit. They also focus on trying to reduce intake of foods that are less nutritious.
It is recommended to consume a variety of foods daily from sources such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy, lean protein sources, and healthy fats. The more colorful your plate is, the better!
While focusing on fresh, whole ingredients, we do want to be mindful and reduce our intake of processed foods that are high in added sugar, saturated fats and sodium. If you are interested in more tips on how to incorporate these guidelines into your lifestyle, check out choosemyplate.gov for more information!
Don't forget about physical activity! It is important to move more and sit less throughout the day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, such as brisk walking, running, bicycling or swimming.
It is also recommended to incorporate two or more days of strength-training exercises per week, such as lifting weights or using resistance bands. Physical activity has been found to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, improve cognitive function, reduce anxiety and depression, improve sleep, and improve overall quality of life!