It’s hard to ignore the refreshing feeling a new year brings. It’s a chance to re-evaluate your life and think about where you might like to make changes. Statistics show that most resolutions don’t work, so we’re going dive into noteworthy goals for the new year. If you’re already a pro at setting goals (thanks to SparkPeople), then these nine ideas will help you kick start the year to higher health. Choose to focus on one, some or all nine throughout the year.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Research shows that increasing the number of fruits and veggies you eat, especially above the touted 5-a-day, decreases your risk of health ailments like high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This year, resolve to up your intake of produce to bring your disease risk down. More fruits and veggies mean more fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, plus more flavor and color added to your meals. Remember, when you’re adding more fruits and veggies to your diet, you can choose from fresh, frozen, canned, or dried varieties—just remember to buy packaged items without added sugar, oil or salt.
Get started: Aim for 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Eat More Healthy Fats
Get going this year by adding fruits and veggies to your diet! Put dried fruit in your chicken salad sandwich, frozen spinach in vegetarian lasagna, or double the diced peppers, mushroom and onions in your morning omelet. Every extra bit counts! To find out what counts as a serving, click here. Then use SparkPeople's QuickTrack tool to track your daily servings all year long.
It’s becoming better known (thankfully!) that the average American needs more Omega-3s, and that we should be consuming more heart-healthy unsaturated fat and less saturated fat. We've learned that unsaturated fats decrease inflammation in our bodies, which is linked to lower disease risk and better disease management. So what are you waiting for?
Get Started: Aim for at least 26 grams of healthy fat each day.
Pump Up Your Protein in the Morning
The USDA Dietary Guidelines advise that approximately 20% of your calories should come from unsaturated fats each day (and no more than 10% from saturated fat.) That's about 26-40 grams for people eating between 1,200 and 1,800 calories each day. Start by switching ground beef to tuna or salmon, and top your salad with slivered almonds instead of shredded cheese. You can also expand your use of avocado. Use the tasty fruit as a sandwich spread, whole-wheat cracker dip, salad topper or omelet partner. You can see your specific fat recommendations, and track your intake, on your SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker.
Our busy schedules mean we consume most of our protein in the latter half of the day. But protein keeps us full and energized, and our bodies constantly use this cell-building substance. Studies show that people who balance their protein distribution throughout the day are more successful at maintaining a healthy weight.
Get Started: Eat at least 15 grams of protein at breakfast.
Eat about 25% of your daily protein requirements at breakfast. That's 15 grams for someone eating 1,200 calories daily. (To discover and track your protein needs, visit your SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker.) To meet this goal, include foods like hard-boiled eggs, fat-free yogurt or Greek yogurt, and cheese made from 2% milk in your breakfast. Adding diced chicken to your eggs, or almonds to cereal can also help you rack up a few grams of protein in the a.m.