Jump-Start Healthy Eating Habits in 2022 With These 7 Products
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The New Year is synonymous with health and weight-related goals. In fact, you may be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t set a nutrition or exercise goal to start their year on the right foot. While it is wonderful to set nutrition goals to better your health, many take it to the extreme with restrictive diets, unsustainable exercise goals, and very low-calorie cleanses that don’t always set up an individual for long-term success.
The good news is you don’t have to fall into the strict guidelines of one of the typical New Year diet strategies to jump-start your health in 2022. With well-rounded, balanced eating habits you can start your year on a healthy note while still enjoying your favorite foods. Here are my foods and products to include in your 2022 routine to reach your healthy eating goals.
Are you surprised to see carbohydrate-dense food as the first item on my list? While many people will be restricting their carb intake as part of their New Year diet, I encourage you to load up on high-fiber, complex carb sources, like oatmeal. Not all carbohydrates are created equally, so when choosing which carb to include in your eating strategy, there are a few traits to keep in mind. At the top of this list is fiber content. The more fiber that is present in a carb-based food, typically the better quality it is. Oatmeal contains about 4 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup raw serving, making it one of the best carb sources available.
Fiber is important for several reasons. First off, it increases satiety, which means you feel fuller, longer after eating fiber-dense foods. In addition to helping you feel full and satisfied after a meal, fiber also plays a major role in proper digestion, creating regularity in bathroom visits, and can even help lower blood cholesterol levels. All of these positive attributes make oatmeal an ideal food, and carb source, to include in your healthy eating habits.
My general rule of thumb is to consume as many nutrients as possible through actual food sources. However, I recognize due to food preferences, sensitivities, and cooking abilities, some individuals may be best off including some supplements in their daily routine. The supplement I most frequently recommend to clients is omega-3s. While this nutrient is available in foods like salmon, tuna, walnuts, and certain seeds (more on that later), most people are not consuming enough of these foods on a daily basis to reach optimal levels of omega-3.
This nutrient plays some very important roles in the body, including anti-inflammatory functions, contributing to heart and nervous system health, hormone production, and improving joint pain. Even if you enjoy foods that contain omega-3 fats, aim to consume at least one of these food sources on a daily basis, in addition to taking a supplement.
While all nuts provide a blend of important nutrients, like healthy fats, protein, and a broad spectrum of micronutrients, brazil nuts contain some unique properties worth mentioning and incorporating into your eating habits. One of the reasons I love brazil nuts so much is because of their selenium content. This mineral may be new to you, but it is definitely worth learning about in more detail.
One of the main functions of selenium is as an antioxidant. The vitamins and minerals that serve this function protect the health of your cells and help to negate oxidative stress, which can damage cells and lead to a cascade of negative effects in your body. While you can consume antioxidants from many different food sources, the selenium content of brazil nuts is considered to be quite high, and, in turn, provides you a concentrated source of antioxidants packed into a small, convenient food source. Brazil nuts are also a good source of magnesium, a mineral that is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions within your body.
I always keep a stash of nuts, including brazil nuts, in my bag at all times for a quick snack or to hold me over until my next meal, especially if I end up away from home longer than expected. Enjoy brazil nuts on their own, combined with your other favorite nuts, or turn them into a trail mix with a variety of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. This versatile food can be enjoyed in so many different ways!
You didn’t think I would write an article about good nutrition habits and not mention water, right? Proper hydration is so important to health and should be a relatively easy habit to make a consistent part of your daily routine, yet so many adults are chronically dehydrated. One of the best tools I have found to help clients improve their water intake is for them to always have a reusable water bottle on hand. This is a habit I practice on a daily basis and encourage everyone, from children to adults, to build as part of their healthy nutrition habits.
Fluid needs are very different person to person, but most adults should be consuming at least 80 ounces of fluid per day, with the majority of their liquid intake coming from water. The more active you are, the more fluid you should be consuming as well. Having a full water bottle on hand at all times should make you more likely to drink more ounces of water. Once you have your refillable water bottle, if you notice you are still having a hard time reaching at least 80 ounces of fluid per day, try setting alarms throughout the day to remind you to drink water and set benchmarks for fluid intake across the day. For example, consume one bottle by mid-morning, another bottle by lunch, and so on throughout the day. Look for a bottle that is free from BPA, phthalates, and other concerning chemical-based compounds commonly found in plastic containers. This is a major perk of choosing a stainless steel option!
One of the best tips I can share to help you get your year off to a healthy start is to eat from home as often as possible. While restaurants, fast food, and work cafeterias can be part of an overall healthful way of eating, it can be tough to navigate menus and exercise the willpower to choose the best option for your goals. To avoid that predicament, I recommend getting some food storage containers and getting into the habit of bringing lunch and snacks from home, whether you are headed to work, traveling, or spending the day away from home for any reason. It does take more effort to pack food from home than it does to order from a menu, however, the health (and financial) benefits will certainly pay off. You can do meal prep on the weekend and load all of your containers for the week, or take it day by day, packing your items the night before so you can easily get out the door the next morning.
Nuts and seeds, fruit, canned tuna, hummus, veggies, and whole-grain crackers are easy items to pack for snacks or meal components. When choosing food storage containers, look for plastic options that are free from BPA or glass containers to limit chemicals leaching into your food.
Consuming adequate protein goes a long way in aiding in healthy nutrition habits. This is because protein is the most satiating macronutrient. The fuller and more satisfied you feel after eating, the less likely you are to indulge in excessive snacking or over-serve yourself at meals. While there are many different types of protein that can work into a healthful diet, tuna is one of my top picks because of its convenience and versatility. You can easily keep a stash of canned tuna on hand to serve over whole-grain crackers for an easy lunch at work, combine with your favorite seasoning and avocado oil mayo for tuna salad, prepare and cook tuna cakes, or throw over a green salad for an easy protein-packed meal.
Similar to nuts, seeds contain many essential nutrients, all packed into a convenient food source. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds top my list of favorite seeds because of the health properties they possess. All three of these seeds contain omega-3s and are also a good source of satiating protein and fiber. While you likely won’t enjoy grabbing a handful of these seeds for a snack, they are a great addition to other food items. For example, you can add them to your oatmeal, mix them into a salad, add them to a yogurt parfait, or blend them into your favorite homemade smoothie. They are quite versatile and can really be enjoyed in numerous ways. Adding a serving of these seeds to your meals or snacks each day will contribute to your omega-3 intake while helping you feel full and satisfied between meals and snacks.
There are plenty of items I could add to this list, but, most importantly, it’s essential to recognize that no foods are off-limits. Part of a well-balanced diet is including the foods you enjoy along with the foods you are intentionally consuming to positively contribute to your health and wellness. Use this list to inspire a New Year grocery haul that will set you up for success over the coming weeks and months.