TAMC offers doable New Year’s health resolutions

| January 13, 2017 | 0 Comments
Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Capt. William Conkright
Tripler Army Medical Center
HONOLULU — It’s that time of year again when everyone gets ramped up to make their New Year’s resolutions.

Fitness centers are flooded with new gym-goers. People are swearing off all things nutritionally unholy and promising that they will be different than years past.

Unfortunately, most of these changes will not take hold because most “resolutioners” bite off more than they can chew.

Instead of trying to overhaul your entire life, this year make smaller, focused goals that you can achieve each month. By the end of the year, you will not only have achieved your goal, but also made new habits.

Here are some nutrition goals to take on each month to make your 2017 (and beyond) a healthier one.

January – Track your foods. When making a change, the perfect place to start is understanding what you are currently doing. Use phone apps to log your foods (or pencil and paper) for at least a week to understand what areas need the most change.

February – Eat less added sugar. Did you know that there are 61 names for sugar on food labels and that 74 percent of packaged grocery store items have some form of added sugar? Added sugars are sweeteners that are not naturally found in foods.

March – Trade in unhealthy fats for healthy ones. Fat is not bad. There, I said it. However, some are better for us than others. The worst of them are trans fats (aka hydrogenated oils), which are mostly found in packaged foods. Focus on eating more nuts and seeds, avocados, olives and olive oil.

April – Cook more. We are surrounded by food on a daily basis. Most of it is not the healthy kind. Cooking from home is an excellent way to ensure you know what is going into your food. To save time, cook a few extra servings to pack and eat for the next couple of meals, so you don’t have to cook every day.

May – Eat more plants. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, paleo or diet agnostic, there is no denying that having more plant foods in your diet promotes greater energy, health and longevity. Eat a variety of colors to ensure you get a wide range of nutrients.

June – Bring the flavor! Most Americans play it safe when flavoring their foods, using only salt and pepper or buying a seasoning blend with astronomical levels of sodium. Try using different aromatics, such as onions, garlic and ginger; acids such as vinegars and citrus fruits; fresh or dried herbs; or spices to add flavor to food without adding calories. Amp up the flavor of vegetables by roasting, grilling or sautéing them.

July – Slow down. It takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to receive messages signaling fullness. Most people take less than 10 minutes to eat a meal.

August – Step away from the TV. Eating in front of a TV (or anything else that is distracting) causes a person to be less aware when they have reached a point of fullness. Try eating with no distractions. Savor the flavor of your meals.

September – Plan B foods. Stock your freezer with good quality frozen foods, such as thaw and heat proteins, frozen brown rice or quinoa, and steamer bags of vegetables. Next time you are too tired to cook, you can throw one of each in the microwave for a quick meal rather than ordering pizza.

October – Build a healthy food environment. Research shows that we are more likely to eat a healthy food if it is available and convenient and less likely to eat unhealthy foods if they are less available and less convenient. So, do just that in your home. Prep or portion healthy foods and place them at eye level in your refrigerator and pantry.

November – Hydrate! Water plays a significant role in a wide range of functions in the body. To calculate your fluid needs, multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.5-1.0 ounces. Another way to make sure you are well hydrated is by drinking enough fluids so that you are urinating every 2-4 hours and that it is pale yellow in color.

December – Stay “app-to-date” on technology. Technology can be a huge asset for making healthy changes. The following are a few apps for either tracking foods or making healthier food choices: MyFitness Pal, LoseIt, HealthyOut, Fooducate, Shopwell.
(Editor’s note: Conkright is the chief of Outpatient Nutrition at TAMC.)

Contact TAMC
If you are interested in learning more about eating healthy and how you make the most out of your nutritional resolution, contact the Nutrition Outpatient Clinic at (808) 433-4950.

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Category: Health

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