No kidding, right? Don’t we ALL resolve to eat less/better and workout more each year? I know I do, and I already have some pretty good eating habits…except for the ungodly amount of sweets I consumed this past holiday season. Perhaps my New Year’s Resolution should be to eat LESS in general. The truth of the matter is, we can all eat better, whether we make one change or twenty-one changes. I can think of two meal changes I’m making to our weekly menu in the Layer household: more fish and less red meat. A personal change of mine: ONE dessert per day, not three. (Or four or five… Let’s just say I have a serious sweet tooth.)
Read below for some ideas on how to improve your family’s diet, one small change at a time.
1. Eat more fish
-It’s recommended that we eat fish twice a week, with a focus on cold-water (think salmon) fish for those Omega-3 fatty acids. I’m married to someone who isn’t very enthusiastic about fish, so I know this can be a huge challenge. I’m resolving to incorporate fish ONCE a week, whether it be cold-water or not. If your family balks at the sight of fins and tails, try mild white fish like tilapia or cod. Salmon has a stronger flavor and meatier texture; find the darkest pink/coral colored filets you can. If price is an issue, many grocery stores sell frozen fish in family-size packs at a discount. Obviously, wild-caught fish is the best nutritionally, but buy what your family will eat while staying in your budget.
2. Eat less saturated fat
-Saturated fat, by definition, means that a fatty acid is ‘saturated’ with hydrogen molecules–there are two hydrogens for each carbon in the chain. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature (think butter) and often come from animal products. A little saturated fat isn’t going to kill anyone–feel free to use a teaspoon or two of butter on your toast–but a lot can clog arteries and increase your waistline in no time. Opt for mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which are fatty acid chains that are ‘missing’ some hydrogens. They come from plant sources and are liquid at room temperature (vegetable and olive oil).
3. Drink more water
-Don’t drink your calories. Period. Limit juice to 4-6 ounces per day (that’s not a lot, folks) and keep alcohol intake to the equivalent of one glass per day for women and two for men. Soda, in my not-so-humble opinion, should be reserved for special occasions, like eating out perhaps, or paired with greasy food (pizza just isn’t the same with water). Instead, keep a water bottel with you at all times and give flavored seltzers a try.
4. Eat the colors of the rainbow
-Scientists, researchers and dietitians originally thought it was all the vitamins in fruits and vegetables that gave them their healing effects, but really it’s their PIGMENTS. As in, what gives each fruit or vegetable its color. (Not that vitamins don’t help–they do.) Fruits and vegetables are chock full of disease- and cancer-fighting compounds, often called ‘phytochemicals.’ These include things like antioxidants (they fight oxidation and free radicals) and isoflavones (inflammation fighters). Pigments include: lycopene (red), carotene (orange and yellow), anthoxanthin (white), anthocyanin (blue and purple) and chlorophyll (green). The fresher the better, but sometimes cooking and canning can aid in concentrating the beneficial pigments, like in lycopene. Aim to fill half your plate with non-processed, plant-based foods.
5. Eat slower, eat LESS
-We all know it takes almost 20 minutes for our stomachs to send the message to our brains that we’re full; if we wolf down too much food, we don’t get the message in time to stop. I’d venture to guess the reason so many of us are carrying around a few (or more) extra pounds is in part because we eat too fast and aren’t paying attention to our portions. Without even mentioning food type, here are some easy adjustments we should all make: eat from a smaller plate, keep portions small (you can always go back for seconds!), and rest your fork on your plate between bites. Drink a glass of water before you even sit down to dinner, and sip in between bites, too. Serve food in the kitchen and eat in the dining room–don’t bring the serving dishes to the table. Ask yourself, “How hungry am I?” before getting seconds.
These are all resolutions I’m aiming to incorporate into my house this year–why don’t you join me?
Holly R. Layer received a B. A. in Journalism from Penn State and served four years in the U. S. Air Force before deciding to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician. She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related. An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy. Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive! You can find her at www.thefrozenpineapple.com.