Forget resolutions — small, simple steps will enhance health

A new year has arrived. It’s time to let go of the past and take a fresh approach to getting healthier without New Year’s resolutions.

That’s right, skip them and take these small steps, using seven simple strategies for better nutrition.

Extreme dieting and restricting foods is out! Here’s “newtrition” that will maintain your health all year long.

1. Reset your perspective by taking an assessment of what heath means to you. Keep it real and be specific.

Is it being able to wear those jeans you bought a year ago? Being able to get down on the floor and play with your grandchildren without struggling to get back up? Having more energy to get more out of life? Pick the one thing that means the most to you.

2. Do an alcohol fast. Give your liver a break after the past two months of holidays. Try it for two weeks and you’ll be amazed at how differently you look at your next glass of wine.

3. Vow to take more time to cook in your kitchen — it’s a surefire way to improve your nutrition. Rid your pantry of prepared foods like white rice mixes, instant mashed potatoes and store-bought salad dressings and buy and cook more whole foods. Pick one new food you’ll make at home, and healthier, this year — example: salad dressings.

4. Learn to love whole grains. Start with these quick-to-cook ones that add fiber, flavor, texture, important nutrients and phytochemicals: quinoa, whole wheat couscous, bulgur, oats and popcorn.

5. Embrace quality carbs that provide benefits. Focus on beans, peas, lentils, colorful fresh, frozen, (even canned) vegetables and fruit and low-fat dairy products. Use them in a balanced way to give you more long lasting energy and eating satisfaction.

6. Energize your meals with one delicious new food or interesting recipe every week. Keep it simple. Try fermented foods, plain Greek yogurt, shaved Brussels sprouts, riced cauliflower, freekah, tofu or a new type of mushroom. Have fun with it by writing down your favorites and lessons learned as you go.

7. Evaluate your added sugar intake honestly — are you eating sugar you really don’t need? Pick one area where you know you can cut out that added sugar. Is it using fresh fruit in plain yogurt rather than buying sugar filled yogurt? Subbing applesauce or prune pureed in your baked goods? Skipping that sugar in your coffee? Limiting sweets?

Kim Larson is a registered dietitian nutritionist, founder of Total Health, www.totalhealthrd.com, and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition &Dietetics.

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