GREENSBORO, N.C. – Millions of people plan on eating healthier for the New Year.
But, past research shows, about 80-percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February.
It’s easy for your ambitious resolutions to quickly fall by the wayside.
When it comes to your health, experts say, focusing on smaller changes instead can make a bigger difference in the long run.
“Choose something simple, something that you know you can achieve and start small,” said Dr. Linda Van Horn, the Division Chief of Nutrition in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
Healthy eating starts with healthy food choices.
You don’t need to be a chef to create nutritious and heart-healthy meals.
The American Heart Association offers the following healthy eating tips for the New Year:
- Take it slow and steady. When it comes to starting a new approach, nutrition experts say, you should remember “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” It’s best to set realistic goals toward achieving heart health and other long-term positive results. Many Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, so consider adding a piece or two of fruit each day. It’s fairly easy and may help you gradually shift away from bad habits and toward healthier eating.
- Enjoy home cooking and save money. Preparing meals at home can be more nutritious than eating out — and less expensive. When grocery shopping, be sure to look for fresh produce. Fresh is best, but frozen vegetables without additives are an alternative. For those who live alone and worry that fresh food may spoil before it’s used, canned fruits and vegetables are another option. Paying attention to can labels will help with nutrition goals. Consider selecting fruit canned in its own juices, not in sugary syrup. Fresh fish or lean meats are good protein selections, and occasionally using rice and beans as menu ingredients will supply protein while reducing costs.
- Be strategic when eating out. You might want to consider restaurants that are open to requests for using oils such as corn oil or soybean oil (high in polyunsaturated fats) and olive oil and canola (those high in monounsaturated fats). Consider asking for more vegetables instead of french fries or mashed potatoes, and avoid heavy cream-based sauces. Look for restaurants that offer vegetarian options, fresh seafood and whole grains. Stay away from deep-fried foods.
- Beware of those ‘popular’ diets. Remember, there’s no quick fix — no matter what you see on TV. Evidence-based results are preferable to popular diets that boast only of marketing study results. The American Heart Association and other health organizations support the DASH diet — which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — because of its research track record. This heart-healthy diet helps with blood pressure control and weight loss by emphasizing foods low in saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol and salt. The diet relies heavily on fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods as well as whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts.
- Drink to your health. Choose water instead of soda or other sweetened beverages at meals. Skim milk, black coffee or tea without sugar or cream may be OK for adults. For children, milk or water are best. If you indulge in alcohol, consider limiting wine, beer or spirits. The AHA recommends limiting intake to one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Specialty coffee drinks can be a calorie and sugar culprit, as well, if they are loaded with sugar, syrups and creams.