Healthy New Year's Resolutions You Can Stick To
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Photo By: Evan Sung for The New York Times
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You know the drill a new year starts and you feel compelled to make a resolution. "No more bread!" "I will lose weight." "I'm going to get healthy." But as you've probably heard experts say, goals don't work unless they're measurable and time-oriented. So forget the broad strokes and go for one (or all) of these specific healthy resolutions you can actually stick to.
Swap one beverage a day for water
If you're a soda (or even diet soda) junkie, start small by swapping out one sugary (or artificially sweet) beverage for a glass of water every day. If you're not a fan of plain water, jazz it up with lemon or cucumber slices or try a flavored seltzer. Even unsweetened tea or coffee is a better alternative to soda and energy drinks (just mind your caffeine intake if you're sensitive).
Have a fruit or vegetable at every meal
Ultimately you are shooting for your meals to be composed largely of fruits and vegetables, but for now just get conscious of having them on your plate at all. Like toast in the morning? Top it with fruit. Snack on sliced veggies and dip, fruit and yogurt or trail mix. Load your sandwich at lunch with some extra vegetables and don't forget to have them at dinner too.
Eat fish twice a week
Experts recommend eating fish at least twice a week. After all, it's good for your heart, brain, eyes and even your mood. Plan a weekly dinner with fresh fish or seafood and stock up on canned salmon and light tuna for a quick salad topper or sandwich filler.
Make half your grains whole
It's one of the dietary guidelines for a reason: Whole grains offer more filling, heart-healthy fiber and nutrients than refined grains. Start by reading the labels of the bread you commonly buy. If the first ingredient isn't "whole wheat" or another "whole" grain, shop around for a new favorite. Plus, try cooking new-to-you whole grains like quinoa, barley or farro for an alternative to rice.
Audit your cupboards for added sugars
Do you buy a lot of products with added sugars? Not sure? Get acquainted with what's in your cupboards. Read the ingredient lists of the processed foods you eat regularly and see which ones have a lot of added sugars (in addition to sugar, it'll appear as fruit juice concentrate, honey, fructose, corn syrup, sucrose, maltodextrin and a slew of other terms).
Cook more meals at home
Cooking more is one of the single best ways you can improve your diet. When you cook, you control exactly what goes into and doesn't go into your food. This goal is vague, but figure out what it means for you. If you already cook dinner every night, but buy your lunch, start bringing a brown bag to work. Do you rely on convenience foods a bit too often? Make a big batch of something like soup or lasagna that you can stick in the freezer for easy reheating at a moment's notice. Love the stir-fries at your local Chinese take-out? Find a recipe to make it at home.
Try a new meatless meal this week
There are a lot of health benefits to maintaining a vegetarian diet, including lowering one's risk for heart disease and some cancers. But you don't need to go whole (vegan) hog to get some of the benefits. Simply eating more vegetarian meals could help you to lower some of the saturated fat in your diet (which is linked to high cholesterol). So commit to planning one more vegetarian meal each week, using beans, tofu, tempeh or even eggs to replace meat or poultry.