We are now officially into 2022 and we remain hopeful that this new year will be better than the last one, that we can put COVID in the rear view mirror, and we can once again fully enjoy life, family and friends. You may or may not be tempted to make resolutions for the new year, including adopting new diets and setting weight or other health goals. It has been proven over and over, however, that when it comes to changing what you eat, it’s much more effective and beneficial to adopt a lifestyle of eating healthful, nutrient-dense foods rather than making drastic and unsustainable short-term changes. The following suggestions can be incorporated into your life one at a time, at your own pace, until they become habits that you don’t even have to think about:
- Eat less meat and more plants. If you are currently eating meat every day, try going meatless one day a week until you become comfortable with it, then add another meatless day when you’re ready, then another…
- Eat more fiber. Fiber comes from plant-based foods, so by increasing your frequency of meatless meals, you will automatically be increasing your fiber intake. It’s important for your gut health as well helping you maintain a healthy weight and lowering your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
- Eat more leafy green vegetables. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber that lead to reduced risks of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and mental decline. They include kale, spinach, arugula, Bok choy, collard greens, romaine lettuce, cabbage, and Swiss chard.
- Eat more legumes. They are an excellent source of fiber as well as meatless protein. They include beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, and chickpeas.
- Eat more cruciferous vegetables. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and contain the phytochemical sulforaphane which helps protect your body against cancer and heart disease. They include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, Bok choy, arugula, and radishes.
- Eat more berries. They are full of antioxidants to help prevent DNA damage that can lead to chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. They’re high in fiber and highly nutritious, plus they are really delicious. Whether you prefer blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries or any other berry, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by eating more of them.
- Eat more nuts and seeds. They provide healthy fats, non-meat protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These include chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, and pumpkin seeds.
- Make it spicy. Instead of adding extra sugar and salt, get flavor and nutritional value from spices like turmeric and ginger; hot and mild peppers like jalapeno, habanero, and bell pepper; garlic, onions, leeks, shallots and herbs like rosemary, oregano, thyme and basil.
No matter which of these suggestions you adopt first, or in what order, make them a habit and part of your life so that they become a new life resolution.