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Do you want to feel healthier and more vibrant and energized in the NewYear? Now is a great time to start fresh and set achievable goals for the coming year. Follow these strategies to help you be healthier, prevent chronic disease and thrive throughout the New Year. Remember to start with small achievable goals so as to not overwhelm yourself with trying to make too many changes all at once. One positive change tends to lead to another.
1. Eat whole and real foods.
Stop focusing on foods with labels that say low calorie, low fat, or sugar-free. Your body needs real and nourishing foods loaded with naturally-occurring nutrients, not foods that are simply low in calories or fat. There are some very healthy foods, like avocados and nuts, which are neither low calorie nor low fat, but are very beneficial for your body.
2. Minimize the grains.
Grains are high in carbohydrates, and despite their reputation as a health food, grains tend to raise your blood sugar and insulin levels. Insulin triggers the body to store fat, so limiting grains in order to keep insulin levels lower is a very effective way to lose weight.
Try eating beans as a substitute for grains, as beans are much more nutrient-rich and have protein along with carbohydrates and fiber to support healthy blood sugar regulation and insulin levels. For example, serve salmon with spinach and cannellini beans and omit the rice. Or eat chicken with black beans, salsa, avocado and spinach. No need for tortillas or rice. You’ll have more energy, will no longer feel tired after meals, and will likely also have improved digestion.
3. Eat at least 1 serving of leafy green vegetables daily.
Leafy greens are loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and important vitamins like folate and vitamin C. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, and brussels sprouts may also help to prevent breast cancer due to the presence of indole-3-carbinol, which may help balance estrogen levels.
4. Lay off the sugar.
The question I'm asked most in my practice is “what should I do about my constant sugar cravings?” There is no easy answer. The best way to get rid of sugar cravings is to stop eating sweets for at least a week. It may seem difficult, but it’s very doable and will significantly reduce your cravings. Once you stop eating so much sugar, your taste-buds will change.
Your favorite afternoon chocolate may suddenly taste too sweet. It’s also important to avoid using artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar. Because artificial sweeteners are so much sweeter than sugar, they serve only to exacerbate sugar cravings. Try having a fruit smoothie, or apple or banana with natural peanut butter when you’re really craving a sweet.
5. Eat more fresh and dried herbs and spices.
Many different herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory properties and are a rich source of antioxidants. Rosemary, parsley, turmeric, and cinnamon are some great choices that are easy to incorporate into a variety of dishes.