Registered Dietitian Nutrition Counseling-J.Nutrition

A holistic approach to health and wellness

Happy Healthy New Year

It’s that time of year again.  Lights shimmering in houses and windows.  Snow. Trees and sparkling packages. No matter what the season looks like on your horizon, we all share one common theme: food. If you are looking to have a happy healthy new year the ONLY way to achieve that is through eating food. I think this is such a simple concept, it’s often the first thing we forget.

The holidays are loaded with the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to the foods and beverages we consume. We may share a family and travel ambitions with those who aren’t quite as amped up to keep up healthy habits as ourselves.  Whatever you do, don’t panic! There’s always a healthier choice. I always like to note that we need not wait until Janurary 1st to set habits in place for a happy healthy new year.

What a happy healthy new year looks like before that clock turns 1/1.

Most Americans consume more calories throughout the holidays than at any other point in the year.  Why? Ease of access is a primary contributor.  Time off work entails rewarding ourselves for a year of grueling efforts.  And why SHOULDN’T we reward ourselves, after all tis’ the season of abundant parties, friend, family, and frequent travel. 

Celebrating this time of year seems almost essential.  But who made the rule we can’t do it without divulging into a giant plate of regret.  Let’s get real.  Most people gain an average of 1-2lbs through the holiday season, which is theirs to keep after the lights come off the tree and the snow melts away.  Add this up over several consecutive years and we’ve got a real dilemma.  So, let’s start with a plan.

Tips and tricks that can help you to stay on track to a happy healthy new year:

1)      Keep your daily meal structure.  Start with a nutritious breakfast and have your snacks. By the time you make it to “the big meal” your body recognizes it just like any other meal.  You’re not starving.  You can make a clear decision about what you want, and you remain in charge.    By the time the new year hits you’ll already be happy and healthy, and will just need to keep up the good work.

2)      Discriminate.  Seriously. What do you really want?  Too often we continue eating the cookie that’s less than our anticipation because we’re already clenching it in our fingers.  Let the cookie go.  Save the calories. If you don’t love it, it’s just wearing you down.

3)      Keep up your activity routine.  Christmas and new year’s do not need to exist stagnant.

4)      Be that guy that contributes the goods.  Or gal.  but really.  What’s the harm in bringing the veggie tray or low calorie option to the party?  This helps everyone develop good habits for a merry Christmas and happy healthy new year.

5)      When the holiday is over, don’t let it linger!  Enjoy your day, and then move on to the next.  Send treats home with others. Or freeze them.  Or toss them. 

6)      Socialize away from the table!  You may not have seen the other guests in months, or years!  Focus the party on people.  Food is just a part of it, not the other way around. 

If it’s not your favorite chocolate put it back. Tricks for a happy healthy new year.

If it’s not your favorite chocolate put it back. Tricks for a happy healthy new year.

Don’t let fad diets ruin a happy healthy New Year

Fad diets often offer empty promises attached to high price tags. To be fair, some of them do produce results, most of which are short term and ill fated in the end. When considering a dietary regimen I encourage you to ask yourself if the plan is sustainable. For example- can you really see yourself never having a slice of bread again or purchasing special protein bars/shakes for the rest of your life? How about even the rest of the year? It really isn’t a happy healthy new year if the changes you make only last a month is it. In fact I might even stretch that some of these changes made on fad diets probably don’t most people very happy (or healthy) at all, regardless if they see the numbers initially plummeting on the scale.

Scales are just one health marker for a happy healthy new year.

Scales are just one health marker for a happy healthy new year.

Consider New Years goals that make you healthy and happy, not just change numbers

The number on the scale is just one variable that marks health, and in my opinion, one of the least significant ones. Reducing numbers on the scale will not guarantee a happy healthy new year, but the way in which we change our dietary habits to get their just might. I like to consider the number on the scale an outcome rather than a goal. Goals ought to look a little more like this to truly impact lifestyle changes

  • I will make a grocery list weekly and stick to it

  • I will eat at the same time each day to give my body the nutrients it needs and let it know what to expect. After all, we’re in for a happy, healthy new year together!

  • I will choose nutrient dense foods

  • I will properly hydrate my body. I will choose calorie free beverages more often.

  • I will choose less fried foods

  • I will prepare most of my meals in my home

  • I will stop when i’m feeling full. My body knows it can trust me.

  • I will move a little more each day.

  • I will increase my fruits/veggies.

  • I will choose lean proteins

  • I will choose whole grain products.

A happy healthy new year starts by building on small habits like using a shopping list.

A happy healthy new year starts by building on small habits like using a shopping list.

Sustainable changes are most likely to happen when we focus on one of these goals at a time. All too often we can be overwhelmed with the “newness” of things, attempting to build Rome in a day, especially when January 1st hits. Instead I encourage you to pick one or two things to really develop as a skill each week and truly make it a happy healthy new year rather than merely a few moments.

There are so many ways to focus on a healthy new year. What are some things that have worked for you in the past. We have discussed starting with changes as early as Christmas even if it is something as simple as stopping when you’re full or staying hydrated. These are huge skills that while they may seem small, can add up to life long lifestyle changes. What are some small changes you have found had a lasting impact on helping you to create healthy changes for the upcoming year?

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