Four small diet changes that can make a big difference
The New Year is a great time to start fresh. Many people commit to exercise more, stress less or make healthier food choices. Incorporating small, sustainable changes, versus dramatic, large-scale lifestyle shifts, can make it much easier to stick to your resolutions. This year, instead of overhauling your entire diet, resolve to improve your health with simple tweaks to your everyday meal and snacking routine.
Eat the rainbow
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is an effortless way to boost your intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Try to eat one produce item from each color in the rainbow every day. For example, have blueberries in your breakfast oatmeal, a red apple for a snack and a spinach and radicchio salad with yellow peppers for lunch and sweet potatoes as part of dinner. You could also pack red bell peppers and carrots with creamy garlic hummus or a banana for a convenient pick-me-up between meals.
Adopt a smoothie regimen
Another easy way to consume more fruits and vegetables – as well as other healthy ingredients like nut and soy milk, yogurt, chia or flax seeds – is to start your day with a nutrient-packed smoothie. Smoothies can be a convenient, on-the-go, energy-boosting breakfast for adults and kids alike. Create personalized flavor combinations for every member of the family. If you have a sweet tooth, try a red cherry smoothie, bursting with the flavors of cherry, strawberry and grapes. Or, blend in antioxidant-rich kale or other dark leafy greens for an extra serving of vegetables.
Choose healthy fats
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting most of the fat in your diet from unsaturated fats, which can be found in foods such as fish, nuts, seeds and certain types of oils. Monounsaturated fats, from sunflower oil, canola oil and avocado, and polyunsaturated fats, like soybean oil, walnuts and flax seed, are sometimes called “good fats” because they are heart-healthy and can help lower cholesterol. Add these healthy fats into your meals: use avocado to cool spicy entrees; top salads with walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds for an extra crunch; and cook with canola or olive oil. Fats are essential for your body to function properly, so choose ones that taste great and provide energy and nutrients.
Make smart substitutions
Another simple way to change your diet is to sub in healthier options. There are many ways to adapt recipes that will increase their nutritional content without sacrificing taste. Replace the typical carbohydrates with vegetables: try crispy, baked zucchini sticks in place of french fries or spaghetti squash instead of traditional pasta. Secretly swap ingredients for more wholesome alternatives in your favorite recipes: substitute Greek yogurt in place of full-fat sour cream in dips and sauces or make a cauliflower-based pizza crust, instead of a flour one, for a more nutritious version of a favorite comfort food. With the right preparation and seasonings, your family will never notice the difference.
When it comes to incorporating changes into your lifestyle, it’s important to start slowly and make realistic choices. Don’t be discouraged if you have minor setbacks. With just a few modifications to your daily meals, you can achieve better health in the New Year. (BPT)
Red Cherry Smoothie
1/2 C low-fat cherry yogurt
1 C fresh strawberries, quartered
2/3 C red grapes
1 C fresh cherries, pitted
1/2 C cherry juice
Place all ingredients into a blender in the order listed and secure the lid. Begin blending at a low speed, slowly increase speed. Blend for 35 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.