Back to Basics for a Better You in 2022!
Updated: Mar 15, 2022
Happy 2022! Many New Year’s resolutions usually revolve around making improvements to our health - eating healthier, exercising more, losing weight, etc. Some of us might be embracing the “New Year, New You” mentality, but the problem with most resolutions is that they usually revolve around short-term or unrealistic goals that get abandoned by February.
This year, I encourage you to set an intention instead. Unlike a resolution, which is a specific goal or promise you make to yourself, an intention is a mindset and more connected to what you really want for your life. Because an intention is not super specific, it leaves you more open to fulfilling your intention in a variety of ways. For example, a resolution might be to eat less junk food, whereas a corresponding intention may be to eat more healthfully, which can be accomplished by eating more fruits and vegetables, consuming less sugar and sodium, and drinking more water. After you set the intention, you can come up with mini goals for yourself to start building the healthy eating habits you want to see in your life. The idea is to start with small changes, which will snowball into big changes over time, and eventually become daily habits.
If eating more healthfully is an intention you want for yourself this year, I encourage you to go back to basics! I believe diet is very bio-individual. One person’s food is another person’s poison. As a result, different ways of eating work for different people, and it’s important that you find what works best for you. That being said, I do think there are a couple of common themes or “basics” that everyone can embrace.
1. Increase intake of fruits and vegetables
The CDC recommends that adults eat at least 1½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. The CDC also indicates that only 1 in 10 adults meet that recommendation. Not only are fruits and vegetables packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, they are often not very calorie dense, which can lead to a lower calorie intake. In addition, eating more fruits and vegetables can decrease your risk for various chronic diseases. A few tips for getting more fruits and vegetables into your day include adding them to a smoothie for breakfast, eating a plant-packed salad or bowl for lunch, packing fruit and vegetables as snacks throughout the day, and trying to make a vegetarian version of your favorite meal for dinner. For inspiration, try these vegetarian stuffed peppers.
2. Lower sodium intake
It is recommended that we consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (which equates to a teaspoon of table salt). If you have any high-risk conditions, like high blood pressure, then the recommendation drops to 1,500 mg per day. Unfortunately, Americans eat on average about 3,400 mg of sodium per day according to the FDA.
Eating more fruits and vegetables is one way to naturally reduce sodium. When reading nutrition labels, foods considered “low” in sodium have 5% or less of the daily value, while those with 20% or more are considered “high” in sodium. Many foods, like broths and sauces, have a “low sodium” or “no salt added" alternative that can make reducing your overall sodium intake easier.
3. Reduce added sugar
Sugar, like salt, is hidden in a lot of foods, especially packaged/processed goods. Outside of candy, which is obvious, sugar can be found in foods like condiments, sauces, and drinks. As an example, a regular 12 oz can of soda contains 39 g of sugar, which is a little over 9 teaspoons!! The main problem with sugar is that it adds empty calories. If you have a sweet tooth, try eating some fruit that is packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals instead.
4. Drink more water
Finally, it is important to stay hydrated and water is the best option. Water is important for health and can help prevent dehydration, regulate body temperature, and rid waste from your body. Try carrying around a reusable water bottle throughout the day to constantly remind yourself to drink more and if plain water is not your favorite, add some fruit or go for a calorie-free sparkling water to spice things up!
Start the new year going back to basics. If “New Year, New You” is overwhelming, maybe focus on “New Year, Better You” and set an intention that you can work towards with small changes over time.
Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.