The New Year is a great time for fresh starts. Many people attempt this by making New Year’s resolutions.
Eating healthier to promote better health and achieve a healthier body weight are two common resolutions people make. But resolutions often fade away quickly, and old eating habits return. This can occur because people try to change too much at one time.
Taking one step at a time is an approach that works better for many people. Praying about this and asking the Lord to reveal the habits He would have you change to eat healthier or to make any other kind of change is the best first step to take. Then ask Him for the strength and ability to make changes.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you” (Isa. 41:10). Seek His help and guidance.
The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans identifies a healthy eating pattern to include:
• A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other
• Fruits, especially whole fruits
• Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
• Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese and/or fortified soy beverages
• A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds and soy products
The guidelines also recommend that a healthy eating pattern limits saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars and sodium.
Look at the healthy eating habits you already practice. Focus building on these habits. Then identify eating habits that are not so healthful. Choose one habit at a time to improve and add others as you feel ready. Below are some common problem areas and ideas for healthier choices:
• Eating mostly the same vegetables regularly instead of a wide variety: Try adding a vegetable that you rarely eat to a meal several days each week. Most Americans don’t eat enough vegetables in addition to not eating a wide variety.
• Selecting mostly refined grains instead of whole grains: Substitute brown rice for white rice, whole wheat bread for white bread and oatmeal for refined grain cereals. Strive to make half the grains whole grains.
• Overeating and consuming more food than needed: Start with smaller servings and eat more slowly to give time to feel satisfied and realize the hunger is going away.
• Consuming too many foods with added sugar: Choose an alternative without added sugar like an apple, pear or banana instead of a cookie, brownie or candy.
• Eating for emotional reasons: Ask yourself if you are actually hungry, and if not, be honest with yourself about why you are eating. Are you bored, tired, angry, frustrated, socializing or some other emotion? If so, look for more appropriate ways to deal with the trigger that addresses the real reason you’re eating.
• Snacking on high calorie and nutrient poor snacks like sweets and chips: Try yogurt, fruit with some nuts, a cup of vegetable soup or a sliced apple spread lightly with peanut butter.
• Drinking too many high sugar beverages: Substitute water with a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange or enjoy a cup of herbal tea as an alternative.