We are on the brink of a New Year and those looming resolutions start filling our head with what we should do or consider changing. Keep a positive mindset to not allow resolutions to fall to the wayside in the New Year, allow them to become lifestyle changes. Know that when you fall short, it's ok to give your self a restart. Check out these nine nutrition-related New Year's resolutions to not only set, but stick to.
- Maintain or achieve a healthy weight. While this is a common goal for the New
Year, maintaining or achieving a healthy body weight is essential for reducing
your risk of many health related complications, including heart disease,
decreased immunity, diabetes, certain cancers, osteoporosis, and infertility. Learn
how to assess your weight status here.
- Move more. Moving more often and participating in regular exercise can help
you achieve and/or maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic
conditions, and even improve your mental health. The CDC suggests working
your way up to anywhere from 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise to 150
minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
- Increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Fruits and vegetables are low in
calories, but high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them an excellent
snack or side dish! Despite all of their benefits, only 20% of Americans meet their
daily fruit intake recommendations, while just 10% eat enough vegetables!
Adults should aim to consume around 1 ½ - 2 cups of fruit and 2 - 2 ½ cups of
vegetables per day. Visit MyPlate.gov to determine what counts as “1 cup” of
your favorite fruits and vegetables.
- Eat and drink fewer added sugars. Added sugars are sweeteners and syrups
added to foods during preparation to increase their sweetness. Added sugars
contribute calories, but offer no other essential nutrients. When consumed in
excess, it can be difficult to achieve a healthy eating pattern without taking in
excess calories, which can result in weight gain and obesity, heart disease,
and/or type 2 diabetes. Added sugars include brown sugar, corn and maple
syrups, honey, molasses, and raw sugar. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans
suggest limiting added sugar intake to less than 10% of total daily calories, or
about 50 grams of added sugars each day for someone consuming about 2,000
calories per day.
- Cut back on your salt (sodium) consumption. Consistently high intakes of salt
can lead to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, two of
the leading causes of death for adults in the US. Despite the American Heart
Association’s recommendation to consume <2,300 mg of sodium daily, the
average adult actually consumes closer to 3,400 mg of sodium each day, almost
150% of what is recommended! Although it is a common misconception to
believe that salt intake can be controlled by simply removing the salt shaker from
your table, about 75% of salt intake actually comes from prepared and packaged
foods, such as pasta sauce, soups, canned foods, and condiments.
- Consume less saturated fat. Like salt, excessive consumption of saturated fat
can affect your LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart
disease. Saturated fats are primarily found in animal products, including beef,
pork, lamb, poultry (especially with skin), eggs, cheese, butter, and other full-fat
dairy products. They are also found in tropical oils, such as coconut, palm and
palm kernel oils, and many baked and fried foods. The American Heart
Association suggests consuming <5-6% of total daily calories from saturated fat.
For an adult who consumes around 2,000 calories per day, that is around 120
calories, or about 13 grams of saturated fat each day (9 calories/gram fat).
- Cook at home more. In addition to helping you save money, cooking at home
more often can help you reduce the total amount of calories, fat, and sodium
consumed at that meal, making it easier to manage your weight and overall
- Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol is associated with various short- and long-term
risks, such as accidental injury, violence, certain cancers, high blood pressure,
and mental health issues. Alcohol is also a source of calories and does not offer
any nutritional benefit. Most professional organizations agree that men should
limit alcohol intake to <2 beverages per day and women should try to consume
<1 alcoholic drink per day.
- Drink more water. Adequate water intake is essential for maintaining healthy
digestion, removing wastes from the body, and preventing dehydration. The
amount of water you should consume is based on many factors including your
age, body size, and activity level, as well as the climate in which you live. The
easiest way to determine if you are drinking enough water is to observe the color
of your urine. If you are consuming enough, your urine should be a pale yellow,
whereas if you are not, it will likely be a very bright or dark yellow. Speak to your
physician or registered dietitian/nutritionist to determine your individual fluid