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In 2013, Forbes magazine reported that a mere 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. Though we’re only a couple weeks into 2017, we’re guessing that many people have already made, attempted, and failed their New Year’s Resolution. But is it our resolve that fails? Or is it our penchant for making optimistically unrealistic goals for our “New Year, New Me” selves? Right after the start of the new year, Oldways president Sara Baer-Sinnott wrote this inspiring blog about the power of making sustainable lifestyle changes, and what tools Oldways has available to help people make big, lasting changes. (Hint: big changes come from small, structured steps.)

Instead of making resolutions like “I’m going to the gym every day” or “I am quitting ALL sweets,” we challenge you to commit to better health in 2017. To help you reach this goal, we turned to our nutrition experts to find out their best advice for lasting, tangible ways to be healthier this year.

Ashley Owen, Oldways PR & Media Manager

Ask the Experts, Non-New Year’s Resolution Edition

Hold Yourself Accountable. I’m not a huge believer in New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I love the idea of trying to be the best that you can be all year long. Set two or three goals for areas in your life you’d like to improve upon, rather than trying to overhaul them completely. This can be as simple as trying to work out a little more often, or cooking a homemade meal a few times a week. Then make yourself accountable by writing your new goals down and marking your calendar monthly for a quick check in to see how you’re doing. By thinking progress, not perfection you’ll be more likely to keep moving towards your goals.
– Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, a nutrition communications consultant and author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer, www.karenansel.com

Make It Stick. A lot of people make unsustainable resolutions. The moment they don’t hit that goal,they often feel discouraged and throw their entire goal for healthy eating straight out the window. It’s much better to take a sustainable, wholesome approach to your eating goals. Studies show that it’s whether you can follow a healthful diet plan that counts most. For example, the Mediterranean diet is both healthful and delicious — it’s not suffering to eat a diet like that, as you can see by my top tips for eating a Med Diet (which includes a traditional fava recipe, courtesy image below).
– Sharon Palmer, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian, author of Plant-Powered for Life and The Plant-Powered Blog, nutrition consultant for Oldways, www.sharonpalmer.com

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We Want What We Can’t Have. Instead of eating treats every night, for example, a more manageable resolution is to allow yourself to enjoy your favorite treat three times a week (as a first goal.) I also prefer more positive resolutions instead of negative ones. Instead of, “I am going to cut out carbs,” give it a positive spin: “I will include healthy whole grains instead of unhealthy starches: brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice and white pasta.” Instead of just eliminating foods, opt for positive switches and swaps (snack on nuts instead of candy; drink seltzer instead of soda). Adding colorful veggies to each meal is always a great way to avoid feeling deprived. 
– Lisa R. Young, PhD, RD, adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University, www.portionteller.com

Make the Effort. Nothing in life comes easy, right? You had to work diligently and smartly and efficiently and with lots of patience to accomplish everything so far, so how could taking care of your health be any different? Use that same work ethic to take care of your health. Make lists, get organized and put the time in — that’s how you get healthier in 2017. Start by promising to cook. Preparing your food at home will almost always be more nourishing than eating at a restaurant. Here’s a recipe to get you started (courtesy image below): Simple Baked Eggs with Spinach and Salsa
– Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, Dietitian and Chef, www.sarahaasrdn.com

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A Simple Promise. Every January offers a time of reflection and a new start.  Let 2017 be different, forget the resolutions that are a distant memory by February and instead make one simple promise to yourself.  Make it specific and hold yourself accountable.  Less is more and if you can commit to ‘eating more vegetables’ or ’30 minutes of exercise’ every day, you will be on your way to establishing healthy lifestyle habits that are sustainable.
– Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, director of nutrition for WebMD, webmd.com/kathleen-m-zelman

Start Small. I recommend making SMALL changes for diet and lifestyle resolutions. Including one serving of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, beans or lentils in every meal is a start. I’m resolving to include one serving of yogurt or kefir into my daily diet. Changes do not have to be big. They should be realistic and easy to accomplish so you can feel good about your progress… and move on to the next healthy habit!
– Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RDN, co-author, No Whine with Dinner, The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers, The Smoothie Bowl Coloring Cookbook, The Family Dinner Coloring Cookbook, and Eat and Color the Alphabet

First Off, Feel Good. A new year is definitely a great opportunity to evaluate your habits and focus on becoming a healthier person! But, healthy doesn’t always mean weight, pant size, or number of visits to the gym. Health comes in many forms and it’s important to focus on fueling your body with food that makes you feel good, tastes great, and you enjoy. I know I am not a fan of green smoothies and as much as I wish I was, I just can’t wake up and do kale! But, I do love fresh, crisp salads when I need to “reboot”. This Pichuberry Red Rice Salad (courtesy image below) is one of my favorite salads to turn to.
– Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, Nutrition Communications Consultant & Owner of Shaw’s Simple Swaps, author of the Fueling Fertility Book 2017, Freelance Writer for Fitness & Shape.com

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Be Realistic. In February most goals are broken, which means they were usually set too high. If you want to go to the gym, then start with 1-2 times a week and work your way up. Your ultimate goal may be to get to the gym daily, but start slow and build your way up. You can make the same goals when it comes to food. Your goal may be to make half your grains whole grain, but your goal is to start by eating whole grains 2-3 times per week and then working your way up.
– Toby Amidor, MS, RD nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More than 130 delicious, healthy recipes for every meal of the day

The Rule of One. Instead of big, drastic resolutions, I’m a big fan of the Rule of 1: Change one, small, doable thing. Commit to one visit to the farmers market for fresh produce, switch a simple carb for a complex one — like replacing white rice with quinoa — or enjoying one more meatless meal each week. Hey, you gotta eat, anyway.
– Ellen Kanner, Soulful Vegan writer & recipe developer, author of Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner e-book Beans: A Handful of Magic, Huffington Post’s Meatless Monday blogger, soulfulvegan.com

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BONUS RECIPE: Sensuous Saffron Pasta

Maximum lusciousness, minimal effort. A pinch of saffron is all it takes to gild and perfume this creamy pasta dish. The luscious consistency comes courtesy of cauliflower. The Italians have long loved cauliflower and know how to coax out its mysteries.  This recipe uses the Italian trick of reserving some of the pasta cooking water.  It adds a magnificent silkiness to the sauce and just enough starchiness to help it hug the pasta. Courtesy image below.

Ingredients
4 teaspoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 generous pinch saffron
1 generous pinch red pepper flakes
½ cup white wine
8 ounces whole wheat penne
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
A handful fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
A handful fresh arugula leaves
Sea salt to taste

Directions

Steam cauliflower for 20 to 30 minutes or until it’s snowy and falling-apart tender. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add chopped garlic, saffron and red pepper flakes. Stir for about 4 minutes, until garlic is golden and fragrant. Add steamed cauliflower and mash the whole business. Add the wine and stir to combine, creating a thick sauce. Season with sea salt. You can puree it into silkiness with an immersion blender or with a food processor, but to me, a rustic imperfection is part of its charm. Either way, it’s delicious.   

Make pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with the cauliflower sauce. Add ¼ cup of the pasta cooking liquid and cook over medium heat until heated through. If a saucier pasta is what you’re after, add another ¼ cup or so of the pasta water until it reaches the consistency that pleases you most. Taste again for salt and mix in arugula and chopped parsley. Serve at once. Serves 4.


 


Skip the Resolutions. We are creatures of habit. If your goal is to eat healthier in 2017, how are you going to do that? Work on short-term behavioral changing goals to help to begin to eat healthier. For example, short-term goal: start packing lunch and snacks to bring to the next day the night before, to help set you up for success the next day. Continue to work on this goal, until it becomes a healthy habit and it’s a natural part of your daily routine. Eventually, you won’t even think twice about packing a healthy lunch for the next day, it will be part of your routine! Need a new lunch idea to pack for work? Try this Chickpea Walnut Sandwich (courtesy image below).
– Julie Harrington, RD, Registered Dietitian and Culinary Communications Consultant, RDelicious Kitchen

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Be a Work in Progress. When resolving to be healthier – nutritionally, physically, emotionally, spiritually – start by writing down your main goal. Because lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight, break your overall goal into smaller, more manageable changes to implement each week, each month, whatever works for you. As you move forward, these incremental changes will ultimately add up to success. Get started by using the tips in my meal planning blog post.
– Heather Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN,​ ​owner and food blogger at Heather Goesch Nutrition, contributing author to Food & Nutrition Magazine

Focus on Nourishing Your Body. Create a lasting positive behavior by including healthy foods at every meal and snack that will boost your nutrition. Think about adding in fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts and seeds, healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado, and whole grains such as sorghum. When you focus on adding in the healthy foods, the unhealthier choices will slowly slip away. Take small steps to create this positive change, and eventually it will become a new healthy habit. To start, take your favorite recipes and see where you can boost the nutrition with healthier ingredients. If it’s burgers you crave, simply blend in veggies such as mushrooms. This will require less beef, and will add vitamins and minerals while reducing calories and fat. Try my favorite Blended Portobello Burger (courtesy image below) and discover the great taste of creating healthier dishes.
– Kathy Siegel, MS, RDN, CDN nutrition consultant at Triad to Wellness

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