Tuesday, January 4, 2011

5 Healthy Habits to Start the New Year

You can ask anyone that knows me.  I have not always been the healthiest eater.  And I am not a healthy eater every day.  But I try.  I began taking these simple steps a few years ago, and each year it seems I become more aware of my body, and add healthier habits to my life.  You can do this too, even if you begin with one change.  You have to start somewhere.     

1.  Don't eat everything on your plate.  It's my simple ground rule.  Lose the nagging mom-voice in your head, "You will not get up from the table until you eat everything on your plate, young lady."  Whatever amount of food you are served, or have over served yourself, there is no rule that states you must eat it all.  I take this as a challenge.  It has created what my friends call "A Clare plate" (always food left, and sometimes it doesn't look pretty). This habit reduces caloric intake, but more importantly, it gives you the confidence and will power needed to continue making healthier eating choices.  

2.  Replace (and avoid) fattening butters and oils.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO in Rachel Ray's world), Canola Oil, and Macadamia Nut Oil are the best oils to use for cooking, baking, and mixing salad dressings.  Butter, my friend, is not your friend.  Choose a healthy butter substitute such as Smart Balance or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.  I promise (from the bottom of my dear heart) that you will not be able to tell a difference using healthier butters and oils. Except on your hips.      

3.  Ask for your salad dressing on the side.  A salad  is healthy, until you add a bottle of dressing on it.  Order salads with low fat and healthier items such as chicken, tuna, almonds, cranberries, artichokes, and peppers.  Go light on the cheese and croutons, and omit the bacon.  Don't have some salad with your dressing.  The first time I actually tasted lettuce was about a year ago.  It feels good to savor the healthiest part of your meal.

4.  Choose Omega-3.  I know, I know, a good steak is a-ma-zing.  And well deserved sometimes.  But a piece of fish is a-ma-zing-ly healthier. Just ask the Mayo Clinic.  I won't argue with them.  

5.  Avoid bread as much as possible.  It is nearly impossible.  And how do I love thee.  Most people do not realize how much bread they consume.  A muffin for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, three pieces of bread with spaghetti for dinner.  It adds up.  Then it shows up!  Just be mindful of bread in the new year is all I'm saying.  Choose whole wheat/whole grain breads when possible.  And make a sacrifice every now and then.  Bread for lunch?  No bread for dinner. These sacrifices will slowly pay off.  You'll see.

The best way to become a healthier eater is to not overwhelm yourself with too many changes in your diet all at once, and simply, to be mindful.  Think about what you put into your body.  It affects how you feel, your energy level, your immune system, and your self esteem too. Be good to you.  And have a wonderful new year!

Here are some great websites where you can find healthy eating and lifestyle tips and recipes!

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