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Cheryle Jones Syracuse
Family and Consumer Science Staff
NC Cooperative Extension
Brunswick County Center
Well, we’re in the home stretch now...past one holiday and heading fast toward the New Year. This is the week that people think about making resolutions to get the New Year off on the right track.
Many resolutions tend toward heath issues with vows to lose 50 pounds, stop eating fast food or quit smoking. While admirable goals, they are almost impossible to reach and usually quickly forgotten.
Do you note something about all those resolutions? They all require you to stop doing something. Wow, it’s hard for all of us to quit doing something we like or are in the habit of doing. Even if the intentions are good, of course most are going to break those resolutions.
I have a better idea. I propose a few resolutions that have you adding things to your life, not taking away. You’ll also note that there is a “method to my madness” that by adding these items, you actually may accomplish some of those larger goals of a healthier lifestyle.
Here are three resolutions you can try:
Eat more fruits
The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize the benefits of more eating fruits and vegetables. They recommend eating at least 2-1/2 cups of vegetables and fruits each day. Research shows that just one in five Americans actually eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables everyday. This could be a goal for you.
Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables. Fruits and vegetables provide lots of vitamins, minerals and along with fiber. They also are associated with reducing your risk of many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease including heart attack and stroke. They may also be protective against certain types of cancer.
Eat more fiber
This is another chance to add something to your diet. Consuming foods with fiber can help with reducing constipation and weight management as well as helping to reduce your risk of heart disease and several cancers.
How much fiber to you need? While it really depends upon your age, sex and level of physical activity, but the recommendations for most adults is 5-8 ounce-equivalents each day. An “ounce equivalent” can be a slice of bread or one cup of ready-to-eat cereal or one-half cup of pasta. Health experts also recommend that you make at least half your grains whole grains.
Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables in addition to whole grains and cereals. This goal easily ties into the first resolution. When you eat more fruits and vegetables, you’re automatically getting more fiber. Think about eating whole fruits instead of drinking juices. You’ll get the benefit of the fiber in addition to the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Be more physically active
I’m not necessarily taking about going out and joining a gym or health club that you’ll use for two months and forget. Think about how you can be more active. No time? How about starting with 10-minute exercise bursts? Six of these a day results in an hour’s worth of activity. Every little bit adds up.
Simply add 10-minute walks a few times each day to your routine. Your dog will love you, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll be adding more activity to your life. Do something different. Karate, water aerobics, swimming, yoga or dancing is just the beginning. Find something you like so you’ll stick with it.
My best wishes for a happy and healthier New Year for you and yours in 2012.
References: ChooseMyPlate.gov and www.dietaryguidelines.gov.