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5 Simple Steps Toward a Healthy New Year




Ready to get back on track in the New Year but not quite sure where to start?  Try a few of these easy tips that won't leave you feeling overwhelmed or discouraged...



1. Cut out added sugar in the morning.

The suggested limit of added sugar per day is 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men.


If you find yourself continuously craving sugar even after the Holiday cookies have run out, it might be time to take a deeper look at your daily intake.  You can start to tackle a nagging sugar craving by eliminating added sugar from your morning routine. Even if you don't think you are necessarily eating something sweet, you would be surprised how often it sneaks in. Think about your coffee drink, your oat milk creamer, breakfast cereals, granola (and granola bars), yogurt, oatmeal, juice, and pastries.  When you start your day with added sugar, your body and brain will continuously crave sugar for the rest of the day because, in short, sugar is addictive.  So if you're looking to kick your craving, start by checking the nutrition info of your coffee order online, compare food labels at the grocery store, or consider grabbing the egg bites at Starbucks instead of the banana nut bread (which has 28 grams of sugar).


2. Incorporate daily movement.

Studies show that just 15 minutes per day of exercise is proven to be beneficial for health & life expectancy.


If you are among the many people who set exercise goals as part of their New Year's resolutions, you may find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed (and sore) in January.  If getting to the gym regularly is harder than you thought, start by building micro-habits that are easy to maintain once the January rush has passed.  Go for short walks regularly, start stretching over your lunch break, or try a 20 minute Peleton class between Zoom meetings.  When it comes to building sustainable habits, consistency is more important than difficulty, duration, or intensity. 


3. Be mindful of your fruit and veggie intake. 

Aim for a minimum of 3-4+ total servings per day.


If you are like most Americans, fruits and veggies may not be a top priority over the Holiday months (or most months for that matter) and can easily be forgotten about long after.  Consider adding a fruit or vegetable to every meal and snack as an easy way to ensure adequate intake of nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and water consistently. Our bodies are built to absorb and utilize vitamins and minerals more effectively from whole foods vs. supplements.


4. Focus on hydration. 

Aim for half your body weight in ounces.


You may find that you feel less thirsty in the Winter months, making it harder to keep up with hydration.  Drinking 12 ounces of water first thing in the morning, adding herbal teas to the mix, or reminding yourself to drink with an app like Waterllama, are a few easy ways to ramp up your daily water intake. Drinking water is shown to boost metabolism, fight food cravings, improve energy, and prevent headaches.


5.  Try a new recipe.

Home-cooked meals typically contain less calories, unhealthy fat, and sodium than takeout or restaurant food.


It's easy to get stuck in a rut with our weekly meal choices, which can lead to a lack of motivation in the kitchen.  Adding one new recipe to your list on a weekly or even monthly basis is a great way to add variety and encourage more frequent cooking. Take it one step further with a new appliance like an air fryer, crock pot, or instant pot to really spice things up!

Skinnytaste, iFoodReal, & Love and Lemons are a few of my favorite go-to's.



Recipes:


Options for the stove top and instant pot







Wishing everyone a HEALTHY and HAPPY 2024!




Chelsea Hoover, MS, RD, LDN

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