3 Simple, Healthy Habits for the New Year

1. Snack attack. Remember snack time in kindergarten?  It was a good idea then and it’s a good idea now. I don’t mean casually snack your way through the day, plan to snack so you can fight off the hunger that sabotages the best of intentions.  I count snacking as a healthy habit because it helps me avoid the temptation of inferior food choices when hunger gets my attention.

When on the run, there are very few healthy choices for something to eat.  A latte, fast food, or the extra food I tend to buy when hungry at the grocery store can all be avoided if I am not running on empty. When working in an office environment, having a snack available makes it easier to say no to the vending machine or box of doughnuts in the conference room. Once I am hungry, I am a lot less picky about what I eat, so I have learned to set myself up for success.

Like meals, only healthy snacks are on the menu, so ditch the granola bars, baked crackers, diet cookies and other popular “health” snacks, which are convenient, but far from healthy. Instead, think real whole food, which can simply be smaller samples of main meals. More than once, I’ve had a 1/3-1/2 cup serving of leftovers for a 3:00 pm snack, which makes a big difference in my energy level and decision making toward the end of the day.  Here’s a list of 10 easy snacks to get you started. Remember, snack time is about staving off hunger, not being completely satiated, so the serving is small, but effective.

Almond butter with celery sticks or apple slices
Hummus with carrots, celery, and red pepper slices
Crispy Nuts (recipe)
Cubed or sliced cheese with pear or apple slices
Yogurt with honey, pumpkin seeds and berries
Snap peas, radishes, sliced jicama, grape tomatoes
Fruit & Nut Granola Bites (recipe)
Avocado Dip with sliced cucumbers
Asparagus (cooked) wrapped in slices of prosciutto
Beef Jerky (recipe)

2. Reading is power. Deciphering food labels is the only way to really know what we consume. Reviewing labels may not even change what you buy, but knowing what you are eating is a big step toward better choices. Even with trusted brands, it is important to take another look (a lesson I learned recently). A good place to start is to look for food with 5 ingredients or less, or buy more food that doesn’t require long labels like fruits and vegetables. This basic practice will help you avoid all sorts of preservatives and additives.

Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks touting natural, no trans fats, no cholesterol, gluten-free, or heart healthy. Make sure the claims on the front of the package don’t distract you from reading the label on the back. Know what you are eating, it is the only way to make informed decisions about healthy food choices.

3. Grab a smaller plate. From super-sized portions at every turn to all-you-can-eat buffets, it is easy to over indulge. Using a smaller plate and fork will automatically help you eat 10% less (careful not to fill it twice!).  Years ago, we decided to use the family china passed down to my husband from his grandma for a holiday meal. It was remarkable the difference in the size of the plates compared to what we have now.  We have friends who switched to using salad plates rather than dinner plates for everyday use creating a subtle, but effective healthy habit.

What say you?  What are you doing to keep healthy habits on track?


Shared on the Following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
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EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday
Healthy 2day Wednesdays

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12 Responses to 3 Simple, Healthy Habits for the New Year

  1. Kelly January 4, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    I enjoy reading your tips. I have given up sugar for the month of January so I can see how I feel without it. By the end of the year, I just felt like I needed an oil change…you know, how the old oil looks all gunky and then you get the new slick oil?…that’s what I’m going for. I didn’t list it as part of my “drop in the bucket” list, though, because I don’t know that I want to commit to it for the whole year. I’ll see what I feel like by the end of January, though.

  2. Patricia January 5, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    I take smaller portions and always leave a bite or two on my plate. I love the idea of using smaller plates. Will try that and see how it works. I also eat apple slices spread with a little peanut butter for snacks and sometimes for my meal. English walnuts are also high on my list. I try to use them whenever I can. Fruit smoothies with fresh frozen fruit and yogurt are a good substitute for ice cream. I have also been a vegetarian for 30 years which has made me very conscious of everything I eat.. . .

  3. Linda January 5, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    Good tips! I pretty much follow the same as you do but through the holidays I tend to get a bit comfortable to all the food! So I like these as a gentle reminder to get back on track!!

  4. Karen (Back Road Journal) January 5, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    Great tips for everyone. I keep a little snack bag of 13 almonds in my purse if I get hungry while out in the afternoon. They don’t mess up your fingers and are a healthy treat.

  5. ChgoJohn January 5, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    A very helpful post, particularly for this time of the year. I don’t believe in diets but I do try to incorporate little steps, such as those you’ve listed, that help me to steer a better path.

  6. sportsglutton January 5, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    What am i trying to do to keep healthy in 2012….I call it the Gluttonous Diet. Tempered indulgences, if that’s possible. ;-)

  7. BBQ Smoker Site January 5, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Best is #3. I still remember my first trip form the US to Europe. Portions at restaurants were much smaller – as such – no doggy bags!

  8. mjskit January 7, 2012 at 4:27 am #

    A few great tips here! I get to start back of them today. My new year didn’t start out too well as far as eating right because of a week long workshop with no control on the food or snacks. You could guess what the snack were – Christmas cookies! :) So hopefully once I get home, my healthy eating habits will return. Can’t wait to actually get some vegetables on my plate! Happy New Year!

  9. NancyC January 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Thanks for the healthy snack ideas–those will come in handy!

  10. Christina @ Sweet Pea's Kitchen January 9, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Great tips! We can all need a reminder this time of year! Thanks so much for the healthy snack list! :)

  11. Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) January 16, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    Snacks is where the healthy eating gets me. I don’t buy snack food, but then I get tired of preparing food, so I usually end up staying hungry :-). Okay for weight loss goals, but not a good healthy habit. Thanks for the ideas! Gotta keep them in mind. Hummus is a good one.
    Thanks for linking up at Healthy 2Day Wednesday :-)
    Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) recently posted..Healthy 2Day WednesdayMy Profile


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