The start of a new year is the perfect time to renew your passion for healthy eating.
If you’ve resolved to eat better than you ever have, hurrah! I know it’s exciting to start on a quest for healthier living (okay, that could just be the dietitian in me?) but let me share one tip for success: KISS (keep it simple sweetie!).
Eating healthy doesn't mean resolving to revolutionize your life.
Simple changes, like eating fruit with breakfast or adding a couple of veggies at lunch everyday are super steps in the right direction. Those small, realistic changes can add up to make a difference.
As the tortoise and the hare story goes, slow and steady wins the race.
Think of a few tweaks to your current eating pattern that you can make. I don’t want to be too dramatic here, but think about those tweaks that you can stick with for the rest of your life.
To help you out, here are three top healthy eating habits that are easy enough to implement so you can see success right away:
1. Start every day with a big glass of water.
Drinking enough water is important for health, including helping with digestion and bowel regularity – two processes that you might notice change a little as you age. Being well hydrated also helps you feel healthy and energized. Your water doesn’t have to have lemon in it, but go ahead if it means you’ll enjoy drinking a big ole’ glass. (Side bar...although there are no magical properties to lemony water for fat burning, lemons do contain vitamin C and other antioxidants that are being studied for health benefits.)
Set up for success: put the glass beside the kitchen sink or the bathroom sink the night before so you’ll be prompted to fill up in the morning. After you’ve finished that big glass of water, move the glass to your table – so it’s your cue to fill up with water again at dinner.
2. Add protein to your breakfast bowl.
Eating about 30 grams of quality protein at each meal (including breakfast) can help build and maintain muscle (along with exercise of course). That’s especially important for those of us reaching (and past) our fifties, when you may start to lose muscle mass.
Also, because protein delivers long-lasting satisfaction, it can help you manage the munchies so you’ll be less likely to reach for a mid-morning sweet treat.
Foods that are particularly packed with protein include eggs, nuts, seeds, pulses (chickpeas, lentils), lean meat (e.g. lean beef, turkey), fish, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and hard cheeses.
Set up for success: make a protein-rich breakfast parfait the night before to save time in the morning. Stir together ¾ cup of plain Greek yogurt or cottage and a tablespoon of chia seeds and put into a small container. Top with berries (fresh of frozen) and place it in the fridge. In the morning, add a tablespoon of hemp hearts or a sprinkle of chopped walnuts and enjoy!
3. Eat vegetables for your afternoon snack.
If you’re like most Canadians, you likely need to eat more vegetables. A veggie-based snack is a must if you want to eat enough of that good plant stuff. Add some protein and you’ve got a satisfying snack that will power you through the afternoon.
It’s not complicated:
Grab a big handful of snap peas and a handful of nuts or seeds.
Toss a cut up carrot and a hardboiled egg into your lunch bag.
Top a scoop of cottage cheese or chickpeas with grape tomatoes.
Set up for success: Cut up a couple days worth of veggies and then put them at the front of the fridge, and at eye level, so that the healthy choice is the easy choice.
One last word of advice….if you fall off the healthy habit, you’re not alone. That’s part of change. Just pick yourself up and start again! As a security guard in the Chicago Art Institute said to my hubby and I so many years ago (and it stuck!): Stay positive. Keep focused.
Here’s to a healthy, happy, vibrant you in 2017…and beyond!
Norton et al. Protein supplementation at breakfast and lunch for 24 weeks beyond habitual intakes increases whole-body lean tissue mass in healthy older adults. J Nutr 2016; 146:65-9.
Loenneke JP et al. Per meal dose and frequency of protein consumption is associated with lean mass and muscle performance. Clin Nutr. 2016 Dec; 35(6):1506-1511.
Farsaijani S et al. Relation between mealtime distribution of protein intake and lean mass loss in free-living older adults of the NuAGe study. Am J Clin Nutri. 2016 Sept: 104)3):694-703.