The gustatory spell conjured up each holiday season that takes possession of our senses, hijacks our willpower and compels us to eat and drink far more than we should has hopefully retreated to its dormant state (until it re-awakens again next November). The season of overwhelming our personal constitutions has careered into the month of dietary resolutions. Instead of making bold, unrealistic promises that may be difficult to keep, try incorporating some simple, gradual changes to your diet that have a chance of becoming healthy habits in the new year. The following is a list of some changes to aspire to in 2015. There is nothing new here that you haven’t heard hundreds of times before. I simply bring them up as reminders to consider in your quest for optimal health.
- How Sweet it Isn’t- Cut back on the sweets and sugars in all their myriad forms. This includes table sugar, fructose, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, malt, agave and the sugar alcohols (xylitol, maltitol ect). The deleterious effects of excessive sugar intake is well documented including compromising the immune system, liver damage, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Eat a piece of fruit to curb the craving and enjoy the extra benefit of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- Less Meat, Better Meat- Choose meats that are raised without hormones, antibiotics and growth stimulants. Pasture raised beef or chicken from small farms that have not been fed genetically engineered feed is an ideal scenario for those who choose to eat meat. Wild caught fish low in mercury is another good source of animal protein.
- Veggie Power- Get more of your protein from vegetable sources. Beans, peas, lentils, high protein whole grains (buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth), nuts and seeds contain significant amounts of protein and other essential nutrients. It also pays healthy dividends to increase the amount of raw vegetables and fresh sprouts in your diet.
- Count on Culture- Before heading to the museum or music hall, get the other side of your culture on by eating fermented foods teaming with active probiotic micro- organisms. Fresh sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, miso, kombucha and artisanal cheeses are rich in living cultures. If you find them on a shelf without refrigeration (canned sauerkraut is an example), they have been pasteurized after being cultured which destroys the beneficial probiotics.
- No to GMO’s- Avoid genetically engineered foods. The common culprits are corn, canola, soy and sugar from sugar beets. Make sure products containing these items list them as either organic or certified GMO free. Verification by the The Non GMO Project is a valuable tool in making discerning decisions regarding GMOs in food.
- Get a Move On- Winter provides too many excuses not to exercise. It’s too cold, too windy, too snowy, too ….. . Get off the couch and move. Work out on your rug. Jump on the stationary bike. Bundle up and walk the dog, even if you don’t have one.