The New Year is nearly upon us. Have you made your resolutions yet? People tend to fall into two camps: Either they embrace New Year’s resolutions as an opportunity to grow and improve, or they view them cynically as just one more opportunity to fall short of the mark. Why the cynicism? It likely stems from an unsuccessful cycle of setting New Year’s resolutions in the past. People have been burned by the process of setting goals only to realize a few months into the year that they have already abandoned their commitments. For example, they may have planned to workout five times a week only to realize in March that they have been to the gym just a handful of times.
If you fall into the cynical camp, try setting a few modest New Year’s resolutions this year to improve your health. Don’t expect to conquer the world in 2018, but do hold yourself to a higher standard and make incremental improvements. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Measure your snacks. If you need a snack, measure it out, and limit yourself to the designated portion. That way, if you decide to snack while watching a show on the television or taking a road trip, you won’t keep reaching into the snack bag over and over again. You can savor a modest portion without sliding into a pattern of endless snacking that you’ll regret later.
Slow down. Perhaps you find yourself shoveling food into your mouth, then rushing out the door to school, work or activities with the kids. We live in a hurry these days, which means we eat in a hurry, too. Try pacing yourself. Use a baby spoon to limit yourself to smaller portions. Try setting your spoon or fork down between bites or sipping water frequently.
Trim down restaurant portions. Many restaurants serve mega-portions. As we sit in the comfort of the restaurant and the company of friends, we may find ourselves eating our way through servings far larger than we would eat at home. As soon as the waiter brings your food, section off a sane serving size and ask him or her to box up the rest for later. That way, you won’t be tempted to overeat.
Only eat when seated. Follow this simple injunction to prevent snacking. If you have a firm policy of only eating or drinking when you’re seated, you won’t be tempted to grab a cookie or a handful of chips every time you walk by the kitchen.
Chew gum generously. Sometimes, we just need something to occupy our mouths, and a stick of gum can be the perfect solution. Chew sugar-free gum when you’re cooking dinner. You’ll be less likely to snack on the food you’re preparing. You can also have a piece of gum ready to pop into your mouth after eating a modest dinner. It will keep you from going back for seconds.
Exercise 30 minutes per day. You don’t have to run a marathon to stay fit. Just 30 minutes of activity each day can make a tremendous difference in your overall health. Commit to be active in some way for half an hour each day. Keep it exciting by changing up your routine. Combine strength training, walking, bike riding, Pilates, Zumba and more. Exercise will naturally hurt a little, but it doesn’t have to be a drag. As the adage goes, the best kind of exercise is the one you’ll stick with.
Be pro-active with your health this year. See a physician for your yearly wellness exams. If certain aspects of your health are cutting into your quality of life, enlist your doctor’s help and find a solution. If allergies are making you miserable, don’t slog through another pollen season with semi-effective antihistamines or decongestants. Talk to your doctor about allergy immunotherapy through allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy (oral allergy drops). Sublingual immunotherapy has proven to be effective for food allergy treatment, too, including milk, wheat and nut allergy treatment. Visit a sublingual immunotherapy clinic and talk to the allergist about a food allergy testing kit to measure your sensitivity to various foods.