Start the new year with healthy habits
[6 MIN READ]
In this article:
We offer tips for improving your nutrition and developing healthy habits in the new year.
Remember to always eat breakfast, drink lots of water and swap healthy snacks for sugary ones.
Try keeping a daily journal, where you can record your daily goals and longer-term hopes and dreams.
There’s a good reason why fitness clubs and weight-loss companies offer special prices after the start of the new year — people view January as a great time to start fresh. Whether it’s eating healthier, exercising more or taking better care of your mental health, the beginning of the year is a good time to adopt healthy habits.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas for how you can have a happy, healthy new year that’s full of good choices.
Personalize your plate
Our bodies need healthy foods to be at their best. But the calories, vitamins and nutrients you need could be different from what a friend, spouse or sibling needs. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) introduced “MyPlate” to help you figure out what your plate should look like for your health.
As you continue to work toward eating a well-balanced diet, spend some time learning about MyPlate and why personalizing your plate can keep you on track to achieving your health goals.
Develop healthy rituals
Pick one or two healthy rituals you want to try this year. Some options could be daily meditation, an exercise routine (start small if you haven’t exercised before), a healthy snack at a time when you usually have something more indulgent, or a certain time of the week when you do something that gives you joy.
Always eat breakfast
If you have busy mornings, it might be tempting to just grab a cup of coffee and head out the door. You also may think that skipping breakfast will help you avoid calories and keep the pounds off. But there’s a reason why “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is a cliché — it’s completely true! A healthy breakfast gives you the boost you need to tackle the day’s challenges — both mental and physical.
Swap in healthy snacks
The 3 p. m. sugar crash can make even the most disciplined person crave something sweet or savory to tide them over until dinner. Instead of reaching for processed foods, like chips, opt for a healthy snack instead. Here are a few healthy and delicious ideas:
- Apples and nut butter
- Plain popcorn
- Mixed nuts
- Fresh veggies and hummus
Don’t forget dental hygiene
How often do you skip brushing your teeth because you just don’t have enough time? Don’t skip it! Brushing and flossing your teeth is important to prevent gum disease. Brushing ensures the removal of plaque, which is the main cause for tooth decay. Flossing, meanwhile, can help you clean the areas your toothbrush doesn’t reach and eliminate bacteria that could cause further health problems.
Beat stress eating
It’s a fact of life that we will face stress from time to time. And when those typical daily stressors are compounded by bigger issues — like living through a global pandemic — it can make stress feel even more intense. That stress can impact just about every area of life: How you sleep, how you feel, and, of course, how you eat.
Stress can make you feel not hungry, or it can make you crave some of your favorite comfort foods. This is stress eating. One of the biggest challenges with this unhealthy habit is that we’re not aware we’re doing it: You didn’t realize you worked through lunch (again) until you’re rummaging in the pantry for something, anything, quick! Or you “reward” yourself with ice cream for dinner after a tough day juggling kids and work.
The good news is that there are effective ways to manage the habit. If stress is a trigger that derails your healthy eating plans, commit to finding ways to beat stress eating.
Keep a daily journal
You can use a journal in several ways. You can write down three main tasks for the day and follow through with them. You can also write down all your dreams and aspirations to keep a record of every wish that comes to your mind. When you record all these thoughts on paper, it unburdens your mind so it can become more focused on each individual moment. Journaling not only helps you relieve your stress by giving you a place for a “thought dump,” but it also gives you an easy reference for your hopes and dreams in life.
Drink more water
Whether you want to eat better to lose weight or just feel your best, drinking more water is a simple change that can help you achieve your goals. When you reach for water, instead of a sugary soft drink or juice, you’re filling your body with a calorie-free and refreshing drink.
If you’re ready to boost your hydration, try one (or a few) of these simple tips:
- Measure water intake with a water bottle. Keep track of how many times you’ve filled it up each day.
- Set a reminder. Make a goal that works with your lifestyle – like refilling a water bottle every hour or taking a few drinks every 30 minutes. Whatever that may be, write it down on a piece of paper or set an alarm on your phone or computer.
- Start your day hydrated. Drink one glass of water when you first wake up. (Yes, even before that cup of coffee.) You’ll be on your way to meeting your water intake goal. And some studies suggest you’ll feel more awake and ready to face the day when you’re well hydrated.
If you’re ready to make a change in your life, start now. Healthy living will bring you joy and help you live longer.
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