2019 has arrived! What are you going to do this year for a healthier you? There is so much information about different diets, eating trends, cleanses and fasts. It can really put you in a state of confusion, and make you feel at a loss of what, where, when, and how to eat.
Relax! It’s all about mindset…just like learning a new workout, or going for that first facial or massage, it can be initially overwhelming. You don’t know what you are doing or what to expect, but you know it’s the right thing for you. The same with choosing healthier foods…it’s all about exploration and mindset. Think of it as a treasure hunt. You’re going to select some new foods at the supermarket and learn how to pick the right ones to make some amazing meals and snacks. The end result is to learn easy and quick combinations and feel satisfied. Once you build a little confidence, it will soon become a way of life. As you will see below, it won’t take extra time and can save you money too.
Research has shown that making attainable, small changes, or “mini-habits” are key in building a healthier lifestyle. Adding a few small self-improvements will lead you to bigger successes. Set your intentions, and see how many you can accomplish. Here are my first dozen tips to get you on your way. See how many you can incorporate. It is really an exercise in mindfulness, and thinking about how you can fuel your body to create a better you.
- Start each day with a glass of water with fresh lemon juice. This will get your metabolism going, help increase your immunity, and will aid digestion. Add a little cayenne pepper for a metabolism boost.
- Eat a protein filled breakfast. Ensure that you eat between 10-25 g protein, and include some natural fiber. This will help to reduce cravings for the rest of the day. There are plenty of portable breakfasts if you are on the go! Think protein smoothies, yogurt parfaits, and egg muffins. Work out in the morning? Have a small protein snack before, and get in this great breakfast within one hour of your workout to build muscle.
- Bring along protein-filled snacks with you in the car. Carry portable snacks in the glove compartment. My favorite snacks include a bag of 30 pistachios or 15 almonds, an apple with a package of nut butter, dry roasted chickpeas, and raw vegetables with a little pack of hummus.
- Order appetizers/salads at restaurants (with lean protein!) or split an entrée. This has been my go-to trick. Most entrees are twice as much food as you really need. Portion control is key.
- An apple a day? I would switch over to blueberries. They contain more powerful antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable. Great for brain health, too!
- Going nuts? My little tweak with nuts is to chop them or slice them before eating them, especially when using as a topping. You will get more crunch and get “more for less.” Add 1 tablespoon of sliced almonds for only 40 calories and a lot of great texture! (that’s equal to only 3 almonds.)
- Infuse your water! Add slices of fresh fruit, herbs and even cucumber slices to your water. Any of these will add variety and get you drinking more each day. My favorites are strawberry-basil, cucumber-blueberry, and lemon. Set reminders on your phone to drink and try to aim for 8 glasses a day.
- Roast your vegetables! This is the easiest way to prepare your vegetables, and in my judgment, the most delicious. Simply take a cookie sheet, place parchment paper on the sheet, and mist with avocado or olive oil. Set the oven to 400 degrees. Slice or cut up your favorite vegetables. Mist the veggies with oil. Add a couple of grinds of Himalayan or Kosher salt. Place in oven for 20-30 minutes. Eating warm roasted veggies is so much more satisfying than a cold green salad on a wintry day.
- Create one-and-done meals. You can create dinner meals on one pan, pot or skillet with fresh ingredients in less than 25 minutes. They are simple to do,can soon become your staples for the week, and are wonderful for entertaining too. Check out my cookbook, The Perfect Portion Cookbook, for some great ideas.
- Measure up! A sprinkle, a dollop, spoonful, a pour or a “taste” can surely add up. Best to have measuring spoons and cups on hand to ensure those extras don’t add up. Use your measuring tools for salad dressings (2-3 teaspoons), snack amounts (1 cup), and toppings (1 tablespoon).
- The Perfect Plate. Here’s a guide to follow: Eat 4-6 ounces lean protein like chicken, pork tenderloin, fish, and lean beef (90%+ lean). Add 2 cups vegetables, and ½ cup cooked brown rice, whole grains, or whole grain pasta. Add good fats such as 2 teaspoons olive oil, ½ avocado, or 1 tablespoon nuts or seeds.
- Hidden Sugars. Be mindful of packaged foods like salad dressings, tomato sauces, marinades, salsas, cereal (especially granola) and bars. Find products with minimal sugars (4 grams or less), high fiber, and low sodium (less than 200 mg). The best thing to do is to make your own—yes, it’s easy!
Nutritionist, cookbook author, and product development expert Mona Dolgov lives her lifelong mission of creating healthier food products, recipes and inventing simple culinary tricks to easily create practical and healthier lifestyles. She has authored and published over 20 cookbooks for kitchen appliances, health and wellness products and grocery retailers, focused on simplicity and using nutritious ingredients.
She recently co-authored The Perfect Portion Cookbook a 5-star rated cookbook (with Hollywood star Anson Willams) that makes American classics healthier and guides consumers to healthier portion control. This book (and Mona) was featured on the Today Show, The Doctors, Huffington Post, and on several talk shows throughout the United States.
Mona is President of You Live Right LLC, helping corporate partners and individuals create relevant and fun nutrition, food and recipe content to create healthier lifestyles.