Think More, Not Less: Healthy Nutrition Habits for the New Year
By Jamie Miller, Village Health Clubs and Spas Dietician
After the holidays, there’s always a push for diet programs, detoxes, cleanses and new fitness programs. Less food, less sugar, less alcohol… all in hopes to see less of a number on the scale or feel a bit less sluggish after the holidays. But these extreme measures most often end in failure due to their restrictive nature and negative deprivation approach. Instead of focusing on less, try creating a positive spin on your New Year’s resolutions and think MORE to get to your healthiest self this year. Village dietitian, Jamie Miller, has some simple, but helpful insight on what to increase in your daily habits.
One of the most key components of healthy eating choices is eating enough lean protein. This macronutrient is vital to maintain a healthy weight for multiple reasons. One is that it is a slow digesting macronutrient, meaning it will stabilize your blood sugar levels to keep you feeling satisfied and ward off unneeded cravings or grazing. Focusing on enough quality protein also increases levels of 2 appetite-reducing hormones (GLP-1, peptide YY & cholecystokinin), while reducing levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Therefore, by consuming adequate protein, individuals experience a more regulated, suppressed appetite. In addition, ample protein helps maintain lean muscle mass. Since muscle directly increases resting metabolic rate, the more muscle an individual has, the quicker their metabolic rev. Focus on consistent, quality protein every time you eat. Aim for 25-45 grams at meals and 5-25 grams at snacks depending on personal nutritional needs. Examples of protein include lean meats and poultry, seafood, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs and egg whites, edamame, and protein powder.
Vegetables are valuable for their rich sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber all which help improve everything from heart health, digestion, cognitive health, blood pressure, mental health, reduced risk of cancer, and much more. They also are key to satiety in order to reach a healthy weight. They are high in fiber and voluminous while being low calorie, thus help fill your plate and stomach while keeping calorie intake in check. Aim for at least 3-5 cups per day. The key to ensure you eat enough is making sure they taste delicious. Top eggs with pico de gallo, pump up your soups and chili with extra zucchini, roast a big batch of veggies to enjoy in salads, mix cauliflower rice with regular rice, dip sliced veggies in a delicious dip…. The options are endless!
Water makes up 60% of your body and is needed for nearly every bodily function. Adequate hydration is vital for healthy digestion, physical activity, mental clarity and energy, weight management, skin health, and detoxification. How much do we need to allow all these processes to occur? Aim for half your body weight in ounces during a regular day of activity. But your body may need even more if you complete heavy exercise or spend extended time sweating. If plain water isn’t exciting enough to reach for, try sparkling water, unsweetened tea, or infused water. All count toward your daily goal!
While the elements on your plate are important for improving your health, it’s equally important that you ENJOY everything on your plate. Long term adherence to healthy choices will only occur if an individual truly craves and enjoys their food every time they eat. Willpower and discipline to suffer with dry, flavorless food will only last so long until a person will throw in the towel and return to old, less healthy eating habits. It takes a little creativity, but healthy food should be just as flavorful and craveable as any other meal option. Experiment with new sauces, cooking techniques, and recipes. Check out a few favorite flavorful recipes from Village Dietitian, Jamie Miller.
Meal Prep Mediterranean Chicken Bowls
- 1 english cucumber, diced
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered
- ½ red onion, diced
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups cooked quinoa, brown rice, or farro, or cauliflower rice
- 1 lb grilled chicken, shrimp, or protein of choice, cubed
- 1/2 cup hummus
- ½ tzatziki
- 1 lemon, quartered for serving (optional)
First, in a medium bowl combine the diced cucumber, grape tomatoes, and red onion with the garlic powder, dried oregano, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. Stir and set aside. In four separate bowls or tupperware containers, separate the cooked grain of choice, protein of choice, and prepped cucumber tomato salad into equal portions. Finally, top each with the hummus, tzatziki, and a lemon wedge. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat, up to 4 days.
Sheet Pan Pesto Salmon with Vegetables
First, preheat oven to 400 F. Next, prepare a baking sheet pan with non-stick spray and set aside. Line with parchment paper or foil for easy clean up. Place the salmon in the middle of the sheet pan and spread 1 tbsp of pesto on top of the salmon. Place asparagus on one side of the salmon, the grape tomatoes on the other. Spray with the cooking oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon. Enjoy as is or with a side of whole grain pasta or bread. Serve with a wedge of lemon
Greek Yogurt Ranch or French Onion Dip
Combine dip mix with greek yogurt and stir. Next, serve with assorted vegetables. If you would like a healthy ranch dressing, thin out this dip with a 1 tablespoon of skim milk at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
Wanting a more personalized look into your current health habits, specific goals, and plan for long term success? Reach out to Jamie Miller, our Village Registered Dietitian, today! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org