Happy New Year! Time for those annual New Year’s resolutions. For many, “start a new diet” is on the very top of the list (and for good reason--obtaining a healthy BMI is crucial for good health and serious chronic disease prevention).
When it comes to weight management, there is no lack of trendy fad diets out there promising fast results. But watch out and look beyond the flashy advertisements and Pinterest infographics.
Many of these fad diets are so restrictive that they limit your nutritional intake and can leave some major nutrient gaps—some can even be dangerous. Furthermore, some of these diets are so unrealistic or expensive that they cannot be maintained long-term. Then next year you are in the same boat with the same New Year’s resolution once again.
The good news is there is hope! There really is a “best diet.”
The key to achieving and sustaining a healthy weight isn’t about short-term dieting. It’s about making strategic, evidence-based behavior changes. They add up to a healthy lifestyle you can enjoy and realistically maintain. Forever is about making one small habit change, then another, and then another.
Accumulated scientific research supports a healthy lifestyle that includes eating a nutrient-dense, high fiber, low saturated fat diet; exercising daily; getting adequate sleep; and managing stress properly.
Here are some great tips to get you started on your journey to a healthy diet lifestyle!
Being a Healthy Eater vs. “Going on a Diet”
- Start by making a written health plan that includes a mealtime schedule. Write down what times you need to eat, what time you plan to exercise, and what time you desire to go to bed and wake up each day. Maintaining a consistent schedule is important.
- Begin to view your food choices according to how much nutrition it packs in. This will help you move toward a more “nutrient-dense” diet. Make the foundation of your meal plan vegetables, beans, fresh fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and very lean unprocessed proteins.
- Focus on eating mainly whole foods and limiting processed foods—those with added ingredients like sugar and preservatives. Place less emphasis on restricting calories and more on limiting foods with empty calories, replacing them with nutrient-dense foods. These foods leave our bodies more satisfied and nourished.
- Replace saturated fats with whole food plant-based fats like avocado, olives, nuts, and seeds.
- Drink more water and avoid beverages with added sugars and calories.
- Learn to listen carefully to your hunger cues. Your body will actually tell you when you are hungry and when you are satisfied—many of us have just stopped listening!
- Purchase a healthy, plant-based cookbook and start trying some new recipes at home this year.
- Add your daily workout session into your calendar with an alarm so you won’t miss it.
- Choose physical activities you enjoy. Some of us like running, others like biking, and others enjoy home exercise videos. The options are endless.
- Set an alarm to get up and walk around every 30-minutes throughout the day. Studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time is detrimental to your health.
- Wear a fitness-tracking device to track your daily steps. Can you get over 10,000 steps per day?
- Include cardio exercises, strength training, and stretching in your weekly workout plan. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of high intensity aerobic activity per week, plus 2 days of full body strength training.
- Include the whole family, co-workers, and/or friends in your exercise goals for additional accountability, encouragement, and fun!
Aren’t you glad God gave us new seasons and new starts? Today is the perfect time to make some healthy habit changes.
Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight requires both a healthy eating plan and regular exercise tailored to your unique needs. Consistency and long-term, sustainable behavior changes are key when it comes to good health. So, start out the New Year with some small healthy habit changes and keep building on them each month. Before you know it, you will be living a healthy lifestyle and feeling great.
Good-bye fad diets and hello sustainable health!
There is a spiritual component to overall good health and bodily stewardship as well. For more in-depth information on how to build a healthy lifestyle with a distinctive Biblical perspective, go to our new Wellness Foundations section from the Medi-Share Member Center.
Megan is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator who has been in practice since 2004. She has experience in sports nutrition, diabetes, bariatrics, weight management, disordered eating, child nutrition, and digestive disorders. Megan earned her B.S. in Dietetics from Texas Tech University and completed her dietetic internship at Vanderbilt University. She enjoys studying the Bible, running, playing sports, and playing with her young kids. Megan is passionate about helping others understand proper nutrition and teaching them how to make it a practical part of their everyday healthy lifestyle.