Sometimes, it feels like we are overburdened with health information from all sides. When we feel overburdened, change becomes extra stressful and frustrating. We may be more inclined to refuse ALL change, throw the bucket in and call it quits. After all, who cares about getting healthier if we are unhappy? Anyone would prefer to maintain happiness and the ease of daily living, rather than give them up for health.
Well, I have just the thing for you! Below is a list of common behaviors and choices, and simple and easy alternatives that support a healthier life. You don’t have to suddenly change everything about your life just to hang on to your health, and you certainly don’t have to make all of the changes at once. Pick just one thing on the following list and commit to making the change by January 1:
- Switch from bad fats to good fats: Instead of processed vegetable oils like canola oil try using olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil for frying and baking. Note: be stingy with oils either way: one tablespoon of olive oil has 130 calories.
- Switch to whole grains: Instead of white rice, try brown rice, amaranth, or quinoa (pronounces keen-wa). Whole grain pasta alternatives include those made with almond meal (GF), brown rice, or whole wheat flour. The first two have better taste, in my opinion. Look for breads that say 100% whole grain.
- Switch from processed grains to whole-food grains: Breads and pastas must endure a lot of processing to find their way into your kitchen. Whole-food grains are grains that are picked from the ground and look the same way on your plate, which means they’re not processed. Rice, quinoa, barley, amaranth are good (and tasty) examples.
- Aim to get most of your hydration from water: Getting at least 10 cups of water per day is recommended – though hard to do if you’re not accustomed to it. Have a schedule to consume 1.5 cups (12 oz) every two hours between the hours of 8am-8pm (adjust accordingly depending on your personal schedule). Or, you could try ¾ cup every 1 hour. Find a system that works best for you! With cell phones attached to us these days, it is easy to set a reminder to go off every hour or every other hour to remind us to drink our water.
- Read the ingredients label on shelf items:
- Try to avoid packages that list partially hydrogenated oils (soybean, safflower, palm kernal or coconut oils are common) and trans fats, which are products linked to cardiac diseases.
- On that note, there are 66 names for sugar. Learn about all of them so you know what to avoid on packaging at: http://www.sugarscience.org/hidden-in-plain-sight/#.V-wzgiErJ9M. Common names are: fructose, sucrose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, maltodextrin and palm sugar.
- Choose meats which are sodium nitrite, where possible. This is a preservative which is commonly linked to cancer in processed meats.
- Try baking your vegetables instead of frying them: Add a little salt, pepper and any additional seasonings and bake on 350° F for 20-25 minutes (if it is a firmer veggie like sweet potato, carrots or parsnips then bake for 40-45 minutes).
- Switch from sugary milk chocolate to 70% dark chocolate: This change may be hard at first, but ultimately dark chocolate will provide exactly what you need to curb your sugar craving.
Written by: Laili Boozary, Intern with Thrive. She is a Master’s candidate at the University of Oklahoma Health and Exercise Department for Health Promotion. She plans to graduate in May 2017. She got her 200-hour RYT (registered yoga teacher) certification from The Mindfulness Center.