We all want to live a healthier life, but so many of us start the New Year with big resolutions that are not realistic like going to the gym every single day and going on a crash diet. Rather than making big resolutions that are hard to keep this year, try taking these 10 small steps toward developing healthy habits you can maintain throughout the year and your life. Try making one change at a time for better health and a slimmer waistline.
- Start your day with breakfast.
Studies show people who eat breakfast are more likely to lose and maintain weight loss, and prevent overeating later in the day. Try a bowl of oatmeal topped with berries and a cup of skim milk.
- Plan ahead for quick lunches.
Try taking leftovers (lean protein and veggies) in a whole wheat wrap or add protein to a salad.
- Add an afternoon snack to your regular meals.
Avoid the afternoon trip to the vending machine or the candy bowl at work, and have a 100 calorie pack or 1 oz. bag of nuts and a piece of fruit. The nuts will help you stay full and keep you from overeating at dinner time.
- Use small plates.
To avoid the effects of the “clean plate club” use a smaller plate. A healthy dinner should fit on a 9-inch plate. Try using kid-sized plates to help decrease portions.
- Balance your plate.
At each meal your plate should consist of ¼ lean protein, ¼ whole grains, and ½ vegetables and/or fruit.
- Stay hydrated.
Don’t confuse hunger with thirst. Drink a glass of water when you feel hungry. Oftentimes we think we’re hungry when really we are dehydrated.
- Keep a food record.
People who keep track of their progress in a journal are more likely to make healthier choices and lose weight.
- Start moving.
Regular physical activity can give you heart health benefits and help you lose weight. You can start by walking, park in the back of the lot at work or at the store. This will ensure you get in two short walks a day and decrease stress. Increase gradually with a goal of 30 minutes five times per week.
- Prioritize sleep.
Sleep deprivation alters levels of hormones in your body that regulate hunger, causing an increase in appetite.
- Set a goal.
Start with small changes toward a healthier lifestyle, and over time those small steps add up to achieve big results.
For more heart-healthy weight loss tips and an individualized meal plan, schedule an appointment with your VHP Registered Dietitian today.
Amber Odom, RDN, LD