Healthy CHOICES: Resolve to eat healthy food in the new year


Cut out late night snacking and improve on the quality of your food choices.

Cut out late night snacking and improve on the quality of your food choices.

It is that time of year again to set New Year’s resolutions. Typically, about 55 percent of all resolutions are related to health and wellness behaviors. So it is a great opportunity to assess your current health, eating habits, exercise routine, sleep habits and stress level with a goal to improve your overall health.

If you haven’t done this recently, a good place to start could be with an annual visit with a primary care physician to get important lab tests, like blood glucose and cholesterol, to have your blood pressure taken and body composition assessed. With some insightful data and metrics, the first steps to take will be made pretty clear.

When it comes to nutrition-related resolutions, there are a few things that I would recommend everyone work towards in the new year. As with any time of the year, it is ideal to start with small gradual steps at improv­ing your nutrition, rather than starting a fad diet or extreme behaviors. I wouldn’t recommend you start a “diet” at all, but focus on a couple of the options that follow to improve your nutrition in the new year.

Ditch the soda and the high sugar and artificially sweetened drinks.

Ditch the soda and the high sugar and artificially sweetened drinks.

Eat more plants. We all can improve our health, lose a couple pounds and reduce inflammation by including more vegetables and plant-based foods. Incorporate a serving with breakfast, have a large salad for lunch, and focus on adding more color for dinner. Vegetables are naturally low in calories, but also very filling because of the fiber they provide. Start by assessing how many servings of vegetables per day you have been eating, then add one or two more and gradually increase to hit five to seven servings per day.

Eat at home. It is no secret that restaurants and fast food come with extra calories, salt, fat and sugar. By eating in more, you have more control over your food choices and the portions and quality of what you are eating. Make eating out the exception and cooking and eating in the norm. Invite friends for a home-cooked meal, instead of meeting at a restaurant. Plan and shop for your meals in advance, and if you aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, take some cooking classes.

Carrie Bloemers is a registered dietitian at Lee Health and manager of the Healthy Life Center.

Carrie Bloemers is a registered dietitian at Lee Health and manager of the Healthy Life Center.

Ditch the soda. Soda is the one area of food that I have a zero tolerance policy for. The extra sugar or artificial sweeteners (in diet soda) are easily consumed and lead to weight gain and diabetes. It usually is taking the place of water that we need for every day hydration. There is plenty of mounting evidence that the artificial sweeteners in soda and other bever­ages are changing our microbiome, which play a critical role in health, immunity and avoiding the development of chronic disease.

Look at portions. Once you are including more vegetables and fiber, it is easier to be mindful of appropriate serving sizes for other food groups, like proteins and carbohydrates. Decrease servings of meat and animal-based products and fill up on veggies instead. Simple carbohydrates, like breads and pastas, shouldn’t be the focal point of any meal.

Cut out late-night snacking. The human metabolism follows circadian rhythms, simply meaning we are more effective at digesting and absorbing nutrients during the day. Nighttime snacking and eating is associated with the development of chronic disease and research shows that there is abnormal hormone and endocrine function in people who eat late at night. Start by cutting back on snack portions and improving the quality of the choices you are making after 7 p.m.

The information in this column is not a substitute for professional medical advice.