If you've ever made a lofty New Year's resolution to become the new "healthy you," you're not alone. The excitement and promise of a new year makes for a great time to consider your life and evaluate where you want to make changes — but many of us end up overdoing it! While the idea of committing to an entirely new, healthy lifestyle at the start of the year may sound appealing, maintaining so many new habits at once often causes us to dump our New Year's resolutions before the month is even over.
Say goodbye to quick fixes! This year, set your sights on a goal with staying power. By implementing one healthy lifestyle change at a time (and gradually adding more as they become part of your regular routine), you'll have a much better chance of staying the course and making strides toward a healthier you.
Nutrition-Related Resolutions for 2023
We're here to help you find simple, sustainable solutions to boost your nutrition and eating habits in 2023 without falling off the wagon. You may have your own ideas about which lifestyle change you'd like to start with first, or you can use our suggestions to start brainstorming. With your doctor's guidance, you can begin playing with which healthy changes feel right for your body and lifestyle. Over time, you can begin implementing additional healthy steps to take your nutrition to the next level.
- Incorporate more anti-inflammatory foods. If you suffer from inflammation, this is a great goal to kick off your year. Even low levels of chronic inflammation can lead to disease, so it's important to reduce your risk by adding a variety of anti-inflammatory foods to your daily diet. While your doctor can advise you on what is right for you specifically (since medicine is often necessary to reduce chronic inflammation), some people can see major improvements with simple dietary changes. Learn which foods to eat (and avoid) on an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Focus on supporting your immune system. In the midst of cold and flu season (not to mention the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic) supporting your immune system is likely a top concern. Keeping your immunity high is one the best things you can do to stay healthy this year — and that means nourishing your body with the vital nutrients it needs. However, many Americans, while well fed, are still undernourished due in large part to a diet of heavily processed, nutrient-poor foods. While there are plenty of snake oil "cures" that claim to boost immunity, luckily, you can get the vitamins and nutrients your immune system needs to stay healthy — including vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron and protein — from natural and common foods. By incorporating more minimally processed, nutrient-dense foods into your daily diet, you can support your body as it fights off germs and viruses this year. Learn which foods to eat in order to support your immune system.
- Cut out (or cut back on) alcohol. The beginning of the year can be an especially valuable time to evaluate your alcohol intake, since the stress and socializing of the holidays can often increase your intake. Consider participating in a challenge like Dry January and see how you feel at the end of the month. Abstaining from alcohol — even just for a month — can benefit you physically, mentally and even financially. Learn more about the benefits of Dry January.
- Add more plants to your plate. Incorporating more whole plant foods into your diet is another great way to support your health without requiring you to cut out every guilty pleasure. Eating a predominantly plant-based diet doesn't have to be all-or-nothing (and doesn't mean you have to be a vegetarian). However, you should try to focus on eating a diet filled primarily with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. The benefits of eating more plants (in addition to reducing your intake of meat and processed foods) are clear: reduced disease risk and improved health and well-being. Specifically, a plant-predominant eating pattern can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, unhealthy weight and many cancers. Get tips for eating a more plant-based diet.
- Curb emotional eating. We all find ways to deal with the stress of daily life. Food can serve as a nice distraction and comfort when we're feeling down. Especially after the hectic holiday season, you may find yourself reaching for the snack drawer when you're feeling overwhelmed. And, while emotional eating is common (and certainly nothing to be ashamed of), it is unlikely to solve your problems — and could inevitably make you feel worse if you're avoiding dealing with the negative emotions that your binge eating stems from. If this sounds like something you'd like to work on this year, remember to be kind to yourself — berating yourself does little to help or prevent emotional eating from occurring again! Get tips for navigating emotional eating.
This could be the year you make healthy lifestyle changes that actually stick throughout the year — and beyond! If you're ready to improve your nutrition, make an appointment with your primary care physician to schedule a wellness check and discuss your goals.
This article first appeared in the January 2023 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.