At the beginning of each New Year, we see opportunity to press the “reset” button to make healthier changes, lose weight, and exercise often. As we approach the end of January, how many of us have already found ourselves off track? It may seem unrealistic at this point and you may be missing those old familiar late night snacks. When the tiredness sets in and our bodies become overwhelmed with making new, sudden changes, maybe it becomes most ideal to set realistic goals to progress into a healthier lifestyle.
Food and nutrition is heavily relevant in day-to-day life. An initial step to healthiness can start with being more mindful about food choices. Start by planning your first meal of the day; breakfast. Make it hearty and fulfilling to reduce late morning snacking and hunger. For example, oatmeal is a quick and easy fix that can be topped with peanut butter, fruit, and fiber-rich flax or chia seeds. In one meal you have incorporated whole grains, healthy fats, antioxidants, and a sustaining heart healthy choice.
When the clock strikes noon sometimes we feel the work day to be overwhelming, leaving us with no personal time during the day. Plan lunches and pack your own meals a few times a week to reduce the likelihood of reaching for unhealthy snacks at your desk or going through a fast food drive-thru. Not only will you recognize what you are eating when you make it yourself, you will also save money by not going out to eat several times a week.
It is fact that not many people want to end a day cooking a full course meal after a long day. Focus on providing a protein, vegetable, and a carbohydrate for dinner time. Cooking in abundance to meal prep will save time on busy days while staying true to a healthy diet. Cook a large chicken breast and shred some for the following days, steam vegetables and seal them in a container for freshness, pop quick-cooking rice or pasta in the microwave for a fast carbohydrate serving.
In addition to meal planning and mindful eating, physical activity helps us reach our health goals by keeping our bodies moving, and increasing energy and alertness throughout the day. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity weekly. Get outside and take a walk, park your car extra far from the store, do sit-ups and push-ups during commercial breaks of your favorite show. Listen to your body and give it rest when needed to refrain from burning yourself out completely and losing sight of your goals in the bigger picture.
It’s 2019 – a year to recognize mindful eating and the long-term benefits associated with it. Plan meals ahead of time, don’t eliminate your favorite foods and eat them in moderation, exercise often, stay hydrated, and most importantly, listen to your body. The results of a long-term healthy lifestyle will be more rewarding than any quick-fix diet.
For information about WMHS Nutrition and Health Programs, visit our website here: For more information, contact Theresa Stahl, RDN. LDN, Outpatient Community Dietitian at or 240-964-8416.
Contributed by Morgan Roberts, B.S., Aramark Dietetic Intern at Western Maryland Health System.