The New Year is when many of us take time to set resolutions and vow to have a fresh and clean start. It is the perfect time to say goodbye to unhealthy habits and lifestyle choices and focus on bringing about positive changes to our lives, physically, mentally, and even personally. To get your year started off right, try incorporating some of these simple healthy tips that’ll help you to have the healthiest year yet.
Make healthier food choices
Add more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and calcium-rich dairy products into your diet. Any fad diets that emphasize particular foods or eliminate certain food groups entirely are concerning, as that goes against the principles of good nutrition, which calls for balance, variety, and moderation.
Staying hydrated is a simple but often overlooked tip. Drinking water helps curb your appetite and is the most effective way to stay hydrated, while also avoiding consuming added calories found in many other beverages. To make sure you stay on track with your daily water intake, there are multiple smartphone apps that can remind you to drink water throughout the day.
Start small—your first time back in the gym after a long absence, don’t work out for two hours. Instead, establish an effective workout routine and then add to it. Find exercises that you like, and don’t force yourself to do a workout that you do not enjoy. Not everyone likes to run or do yoga, and that is okay! The most effective workout routine is the one that you stick to.
A good night’s rest is vital to your physical and mental health. And without adequate sleep, you are more susceptible to chronic diseases and conditions. Additionally, several studies show that sleep plays a key role in our ability to make better food choices. When individuals don’t get sufficient sleep, they tend to crave more energy dense, high carbohydrate foods. Strive to get at least six to eight hours of sleep every night.
Shift your focus on stress relief
Stress can have a negative impact on your health and can cause weight gain, skin problems, physical pain, and more. When you feel stressed, your body loses the ability to control impulses, and produces the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has been linked to triggering cravings for comfort foods, and when we lack the ability to control impulses, we often fall victim to overeating. To help reduce your stress level, consider meditation, calming walks, or any other activity that makes you feel at ease.
Healthy Appetizers for the New Year
Bite-Sized Grape Cheese Balls
Serves 15 (yields 30 balls)
5 oz goat cheese
4 oz cream cheese
1 T minced chives plus 3 T chopped chives, divided
1 tsp honey
1/8 tsp black pepper
30 red seedless grapes
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Mix goat cheese, cream cheese, 1 T minced chives, honey, and pepper thoroughly in a bowl. Set aside remaining chives.
- Using about 1 T of cheese mix, place one grape in the middle, forming cheese mixture around grape into a ball shape. Place each grape cheese ball on a plate lined with wax paper.
- Place all cheese-grape balls in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
- Before serving, place remaining chives in one bowl and walnuts in another bowl. Roll one-half of the cheese balls in remaining chives and the other half in walnuts until evenly coated. Serve.
Nutrient Analysis per serving (two balls)
Calories: 100; Total fat: 8 g; Sat fat: 4 g; Sodium: 60 mg; Total carbohydrate: 4 g; Dietary fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 3 g
Figs with Ricotta
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup ricotta
1 T honey
Pinch of salt
- Toast walnuts in a skillet on the stove, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Chop when cool.
- Slice each fig in half and place cut side up. Use your finger to make a small depression in the cut side of each fig and fill with ricotta. Sprinkle with walnuts, a small drizzle of honey, and salt.
Nutrient Analysis per serving
Calories: 200; Total fat: 8 g; Sat fat: 1 g; Sodium: 60 mg; Total carbohydrate: 30 g; Dietary fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 20 g; Protein: 6 g
Prosciutto Cups with Honeydew Melon
Serves 6 (yields 24 cups)
6 oz prosciutto, thinly sliced
1/4 to 1/2 honeydew melon, diced small
1/2 bunch of mint, minced
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Cut prosciutto in half so each piece is ~3 inches long. Place a 3-inch piece of prosciutto in each cup of a mini muffin tin. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to cool.
- Place 1 tsp of melon into each prosciutto cup. Garnish with mint.
Nutrient Analysis per serving (~4 cups)
Calories: 65; Total fat: 3 g; Sat fat: 1 g; Sodium: 770 mg; Total carbohydrate: 1 g; Dietary fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 0 g; Protein: 8 g