By Dara Godfrey
It’s a new year, and possibly a new you. Setting a New Year’s resolution of eating healthier and taking better care of your body can be daunting — where do you even start? — but have no fear, it CAN be done. Take a few deep breaths and some small steps towards a healthier YOU.
1. Drink 2 glasses of water before every meal.
According to a study done at Virginia Tech, by drinking just 2 glasses of water prior to eating, you consume 15% less calories per meal. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that means you’re consuming 300 less calories a day. I don’t usually advocate calorie counting, but I do advocate keeping hydrated and not taking in more fuel than your body needs. Not bad for just drinking water!
2. Throw out your Halloween candy and your leftover holiday sweets.
Having trigger foods at home makes it easy for you to indulge when you’re tired or bored. Better to waste it in the garbage, than to waste it in your belly!
3. Eat breakfast.
It’s as simple as that – breaking that 8-12 hour fast is key to kick-starting your metabolism. Having no breakfast usually equates to super large meals later on in the day. So start your day with something as simple as a hard-boiled egg and an apple.
4. Enjoy reasonable portions of healthy carbs.
I am pro-healthy carbs coming from whole grains and starchy veggies, like winter squash, pumpkin, corn, and potatoes. What I’m not into, is the huge portions I see at restaurants and delivery meals. Stick to ½ cup portions of these carbs 1 to 2 times per day.
5. Fill up on protein.
Protein is essential for your body to work efficiently – it’s a part of EVERY cell in your body. And just as important, it helps curb your hunger. Make sure to get a lean source of protein for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and your snacks. My favorites include turkey, shrimp, eggs, nuts, and chia seeds.
6. Don’t be afraid of some fat! Healthy fat, that is...
Embrace it! Fat is an important part of a healthy diet, making our skin soft, helping us absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and providing us with essential fatty acids. Choose the right portions of good fats – that means ¼ of an avocado, ½ oz of nuts, 1 tbsp of a nut butter, 3 oz of wild salmon, or 1 tbsp of olive oil.
7. Take a night off (or two, or three) to stay home and cook.
After all the holiday parties and nights out, take a break and stay in. There should be no excuses not to make a simple, healthy dish like a chicken stir-fry or even a veggie omelet. By cooking at home, you see what’s going into your food and have control of choosing the ingredients and the quality of your food. And it doesn’t hurt to save a buck or two in the process!
8. Steer clear from daily fruit juices.
Fruit juice is perceived as healthy... it’s made from fruit, right?! But whether it’s freshly squeezed, cold-pressed, or bought in a carton, all fruit juice is loaded with sugar – often as much as a sugary soda. More often than not, EAT the fruit to reap the nutritional benefits as well as the filling fiber.
9. Be active every day.
Make a daily goal to get in at least 20 minutes of activity. This is as simple as taking the stairs in the subway or at work. Or getting out a subway stop early, and WALKING. Don’t be lazy, and find an activity that you like to do AND look forward to doing. I personally love my weekly Body By Simone classes!
10. Get some sleep.
Aim for 7-8 hours a night, going to bed before midnight. Lack of sleep has been tied to affecting how our bodies both process and store carbs, and changing our hormones that affect our appetite.
And don’t make excuses and say you’ll start eating healthier tomorrow. There is no perfect time to eat cleaner than RIGHT NOW!
Dara Godfrey is a registered dietitian who works in private practice in Manhattan. As an expert in nutrition, she customizes eating plans to help empower her patients to make positive food choices. Dara’s lifestyle-driven approach has encouraged individuals to understand what is realistic and has provided them with a flexible set of tools to achieve sustainable goals of health and happiness. Dara is also the dietitian at Reproductive Medicine Associates (RMA) of New York, a fertility clinic, where she supports patients’ nutritional goals at every stage of infertility treatment and pregnancy, including pre-treatment health, prenatal nutrition, and pregnancy nutrition during each trimester. Dara is a Toronto, Canada native; graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Food & Nutrition at The University of Western Ontario; and obtained her RD and Masters in Nutrition at New York University. Dara is not only a blog contributor for Body By Simone and RMA of New York, but has also been featured in videos on such sites as Fertility Authority and CafeMom.
When not working, she can be seen working out at Body By Simone as well as trying the newest restaurants around New York. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Jay, and two daughters, Allegra & Bardot.