6 tips for a healthy start to the new year

6 tips for a healthy start to the new year
Whole fruit beats juices if you're changing your diet for 2020. (contributed)

New year. New me.

The start of a new year encourages many of us to reflect on the past and make resolutions to become better versions of ourselves moving forward. Some of the most popular resolutions year in and year out involve changing our eating habits to a lifestyle approach, rather than the latest diet fad.

Suzanne Henson, a registered dietitian at UA Medical Center, has been a dietitian for 20 years and says January is always a busy month.

Henson provided several tips to keep in mind if you choose to make changes as the calendar rolls to 2020:

  • Start by making small improvements that fit your lifestyle. Henson recommends not making drastic changes, but concentrating on the small things that fit your normal schedule. “If you stop by a fast food restaurant for breakfast every morning and get a combo meal with a large sugary drink, think about not getting that drink three days out of the week,” Henson said.
  • Be careful when selecting a beverage. While many think switching from soft drinks to alternatives like teas and juices will help, be sure to check what’s in those alternatives. “I have patients who are shocked when I tell them that they might as well drink a soda if they drink certain juices or sport drinks,” said Henson. “The sugar content in juices is often very high and energy drinks contain a high amount of sodium. Most of us just think about what we eat, but what we drink also plays a major role.”
  • Try to eat on a schedule. Henson says eating on a schedule can prevent overeating when you do sit down for a meal.
  • Monitor portions when eating out. When eating out at a restaurant, be careful of the size of the portions on your plate. They are often too large and it’s easy to get caught up in trying to finish it all, which can lead to overeating.
  • Don’t just use a scale to determine results. We often become enamored by checking the scale every morning to see our progress. And while that is one way to determine how dieting is going, it shouldn’t be the only factor. “I prefer using measures other than a weight scale,” Henson said. “I want to know how my patients felt throughout the day and if their energy level has improved.”
  • You can still enjoy your favorite foods in moderation. Planning to change your lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to cut out all the foods you enjoy, but be selective when you do indulge a little. “If there’s one treat that you enjoy around the holidays and you know it’s the only time of year you’ll have the chance to enjoy it, then eat some of it in moderation,” said Henson. “But if you save up for that treat, don’t get tricked into eating a few cookies that are always available at the grocery store.”

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

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