Kicking off the New Year on the Right Note
By: Sheetal Parikh, MS, RDN, LDN, Lead Dietitian – Region Support, Clinical and Patient Services, and Dorothy Clarke, MBA, MA, RD, LD, Regional Vice President
Resolutions. We all enjoy making them at the beginning of each year, and before we know it, February is here, and we’ve forgotten the momentum that drove us on December 31st. Old habits and behaviors continue, and we become hard on ourselves when we are not successful at making change. A resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”
Below are some of our recommendations on how to make resolutions sustainable throughout the year for better health and well-being.
5 Ways to Kick Start the New Year
- Make Time for Yourself – It is not uncommon to make yourself the last priority when it comes to well-being. We prioritize work, patients, family, and friends and forget ourselves. This year, allow yourself 30 minutes of “me” time each day to do what you love.
- Meditation – Did you know that even 5 minutes of meditation a day can provide a benefit to your wellness? Consistency is key to maintaining mindfulness as a daily priority. Find a quiet place, any time of the day to close your eyes and concentrate on breathing. This can be incorporated into your “me” time. Benefits of meditation include inner peace by reducing negative emotions, clarity by increasing self-awareness, as well as physical benefits such as reducing blood pressure.
- Manage Stress – Stress is inevitable in our daily lives, even before the pandemic. Tapping into the mindfulness practices developed from meditation will help to focus on the present, reduce negative emotions, and pivot to a solution-based mentality. Prioritizing yourself and maintaining “me” time will allow you to manage stress effectively.
- Gratitude – According to this Harvard article, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
- Go Outside – Spending time outdoors provides an opportunity to wind down by enjoying nature around you, reducing stress, and calming nerves. An added benefit to spending time in nature, it makes you stay away from electronics.
4 Ways to Enhance Your Nutrition
- Sleep – Sleep is one of the most important components of health and can even impact the food choices we make. Our body needs at least 6 ½ to 8 hours of sleep each day. Our metabolism and the amount/type of foods we consume depend upon our quality and quantity of sleep.
- Mindfulness – This Positive Psychology article says, “To be mindful means to pay attention to what is happening in the mind, body, and immediate environment and to remain present, while both curious and compassionate.” Mindfulness is a technique that can be refined with consistent mediation. This practice will support making food choices that nourish the body.
- Electronics – Eating without any distractions sounds very boring. Research has shown that eating while watching TV, cellphones, or other electronic devices distracts us from paying attention to our fullness cues. Eating without electronic distractions will foster better enjoyment of the meal and prevent overeating.
- Meal Frequency and Time – We often do not take the time to plan or prepare meals when dealing with other life priorities. Establishing regular meal patterns to include breakfast consumption, a higher proportion of energy early in the day, and reduced meal frequency (i.e., 2–3 meals/day) may provide physiological benefits such as reduced inflammation, improved circadian rhythmicity, constant energy, and positive psychology.
5 Things to Incorporate into your Diet
- Water – “Generally, an adult male needs about 3 liters (3.2 quarts) per day while an adult female needs about 2.2 liters (2.3 quarts) per day,” says USGS. Incorporating water by enhancing it with fruits is a great way to get started drinking more water!
- Get Complex, with Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation in recent years and have been viewed as “bad” for health. Our body needs carbohydrates to function, and they are our main source of energy. Focusing on complex carbohydrates is beneficial because they take longer to digest and provide a more stable source of energy compared to simple carbohydrates. Complex Carbohydrates include foods such as brown rice, steel-cut oats, barley, whole wheat bread and pasta, beans, vegetables, and fruit.
- Lean Meat, Poultry, and Fish – Lean meats have a relatively low-fat content. Examples of lean meat include round and loin cuts of beef, pork and lamb; white meat poultry, and most fish and shellfish. The benefit of lean meats is that they are great sources of protein and nutrients.
- Plant-Based Whole Foods – Plant-based foods include more than just fruits and vegetables. Other plant-based whole foods include nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. You can include foods like oatmeal and nuts for breakfast, salad and vegetarian sandwiches for lunch, and plant-based meatballs and spaghetti for dinner.
- Caffeine – Be very mindful of how much caffeine you consume each day. Excess caffeine can cause us to feel sluggish and irritated at the end of the day. The recommendation is that adults stay under 400 mg of caffeine per day, the equivalent of 4 8oz cups of coffee. It is important to consider hidden caffeine in soda, supplemental drinks, and chocolate.