Happy and healthy new year! I am sure a vast majority of you made new year resolutions. These may have entailed a new “diet” or a new gym membership to lose weight . Weight loss is the second most common category of resolution after physical health. Study after study has found that diets don’t work long term. Most people gain back the weight they lose and cannot usually adhere to the diet, as they are low carb, high fat, intermittent fasting or vegetarian or vegan and they are not sustainable.
People with diabetes may have similar issues where they manage to keep their blood glucose under control for a few months and then they give up. Some also stop checking blood glucose as they are aware that their diets and lack of exercise can contribute to a high HgbA1c.
This all or none phenomenon is not good for one’s health in the long run and can lead to frustration and disappointment. According to Vivienne Hazzard, a post doctoral researcher in psychology at the University of Minnesota, start out small rather than making resolutions one cannot sustain for a long time. For example, instead of saying you will do something every single day, maybe start off by doing it 2-3 times a week which may be exercise or eating fresh green leafy vegetables.
One would be more successful, less stressed and more likely to maintain resolutions that involve an addition to their routine rather than goals that require avoiding temptations. For instance, add greens or peppers to mac and cheese or meatloaf. Or use ground turkey instead of ground beef and if you want to start even slower, mix half and half of turkey and beef to make your favorite meatloaf recipe. Add spinach and mushrooms to your morning eggs or a table spoon of peanut butter and a ¼ cup berries to your oatmeal instead or eating maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal. With these small changes, one can see a change in their blood sugars as well.
Drinking more water is a simple addition that can make a big difference in one’s health. Mild dehydration can cause fatigue, decreased motivation and constipation. Chronic mild dehydration can cause urinary tract infections, high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes. Aim at at least 2-3 liters of water a day. Keep a bottle of water with you and at your bedside. Make a cup of herbal tea when you sit at your desk at work or drink a glass of water when you brush your teeth at least two times a day. If drinking plain water feels like a chore, add lime or lemon juice, mint or cucumber to your water.
Add more fiber to diet as fiber feeds on bacteria in the gut, which can have an indirect effect on nutrients the body does use, like sugar and fat , making it harder for the body to absorb them. When high fiber foods like brown rice or beans are consumed, the body absorbs nutrients slowly and feel full longer.
Aim at cooking at least one new recipe a week. Make sure to use foods in season, avoid processed foods and use fresh foods. Enjoying a cooked meal with family and friends can be very satisfying. This can take care of one’s mental health and add joy to your life and not to mention the amount of money saved by not spending money on take out.
Also, start a hunger log to keep track of how food makes one feel. Write down what is eaten at each meal, not portions or macro nutrients like one would do on a strict diet, but summarize on what is on the plate , extent of hunger before a meal and feelings after a meal. Paying attention to hunger encourages eating based on internal cues and not external cues. Adults who practice intuitive eating are less likely to stress eat and are happier with their bodies overall. Eat only when hunger persists and not when one is full.
Alcohol in moderation has some health benefits but too much is not beneficial. Adding more non-alcoholic beverages and limiting alcohol to 1 drink (12oz of beer or 5 oz of wine or 1.5oz hard liquor) a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men are ok.
Lastly, enjoy food and make changes that are easy to follow and make you feel good and is sustainable. Do not force yourself to eat vegetables you don’t like or make elaborate meals on week nights and set yourself up for failure.