Healthy Tips for the New Year
With the new year comes new expectations and goals, often accompanied by the fear of falling off the resolutions wagon by month’s end. Make this year different. Put aside over-blown resolutions and commit to making small changes all year to make this year your lightest ever. The benefits: Lose weight, put a bounce in your step, get some calm in the kitchen, and become a healthier you without feeling deprived.
Spice Things Up
Eating even one meal that contains capsaicin—the compound that gives hot sauce and chile peppers their heat—not only reduces levels of hunger-causing ghrelin, but also raises GLP-1, an appetite-suppressing hormone.
Don't Ditch Breakfast
Caffeine from your coffee is not enough fuel to start your day. Make sure to include a breakfast that is full of protein-rich and high-fiber foods like eggs with whole-wheat toast.
View Recipe: Baked Egg-in-a-Hole
Team Up with Mother Nature
Find a trail near you and rediscover the great outdoors. A 4 to 5 mile hike is a great start for beginners. Visit Trails.com
to find nearby hiking trails.
A recent study showed that if you eat with your nondominant hand you can reduce what you eat by 30% because it breaks up that automatic hand-to-mouth flow. If you have trouble slowing down, put your utensil in your other hand. It's inconvenient, it's awkward, and you cannot go fast.
Feel Free to Graze
Squeezing in 3 square meals a day may not suite your lifestyle. At the end of the day, it’s how many total calories you’ve taken in. If you like to “graze,” eat smaller meals and a few snacks throughout the day.
Swap Out Sugary Cereals
Cut your current high-sugar cereal with a low sugar, high-fiber brand. Gradually reduce the amount of sugary cereal in your bowl until you are eating only the high-fiber brand. Check out our picks for The Best Healthy Cereals
Save Time by Prepping
Mise en place is a French word meaning “putting in place.” Preparation is one of the biggest time savers when cooking a healthy meal. Lay out all ingredients, equipment, and utensils you need before you begin cooking.
The Little Seed That Could
Add chia seeds to your water bottle, morning OJ, afternoon iced tea, or sprinkle them on salads, yogurt, and cereal. One ounce delivers an impressive 10 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Research found they can help you eat less by naturally regulating blood sugar, which helps put the breaks on hunger.
Find more Filling Foods.
Love the Lemon
Nothing cheers up food the way lemons do. Perk up snack time by sprinkling freshly-grated rind over hot popcorn.
The Coffee-Power Nap Trick
Drink a cup of coffee right before a 20-minute power nap. Studies show it takes about that amount of time for the caffeine to kick in, so you'll wake feeling ready to go.
Work to Sustain Health
To be a winner in health, it doesn’t matter how quickly you lose weight. What matters is how long you can sustain your new healthy lifestyle.
Instead of Ultralight, Reach for Local Craft
Savor and sip the superiority of one local, full-flavored high-gravity craft beer. It’ll quench and satisfy far greater than 2 ultralight pints.
Salt Shaker Switch
Fill your salt shaker with pepper and your pepper shaker with salt. Since salt shakers have more holes, the switcheroo will help to slash your sodium intake.
Avoid Disaster Salads
Be careful not to turn your salad into a high-calorie disaster. Pass on creamy dressings and opt for olive oil and vinegar, choose nuts or sunflower seeds for crunch instead of croutons, and limit portions of cheese.
View Recipe: Candied Walnut, Pear, and Leafy Green Salad
Quick <em>and</em> Good for You
A speedier cook time doesn’t mean less whole
some. Instant and quick cooking oats—both rolled and steel cut—are as nutritious, tasty, and fully whole grain as their longer-cooking counterparts.
Find more Common Nutrition Myths.
Keep Fit with Friends
Need exercise motivation? Find a buddy to work out with—family members, friends, or even the dog can help keep you accountable.
Have a craving for French fries but don’t want to add too many calories to your meal? Cut the calories somewhere else. Try losing half of the hamburger bun, skipping the mayo, or passing on the cheese. Check out these homemade Better, Lighter Burgers
Follow the 2x2x2 plan
Eat twice as often, eat half as much, and chew twice as long.
Stuff Sandwiches with Veggies
Add volume to your sandwich by piling on low-calorie veggies instead of more meat. You’ll feel like you are eating just as much but you’ll be consuming fewer calories.
View Recipe: Hummus Club Sandwiches
Divvy Snacks Up
You are more likely to consume more chips, nuts, or pretzels if you eat straight from the bag. Be a smart snacker by portioning out your serving size and putting the bag away immediately before you indulge. Try making your own spiced snacks, like these yummy almonds.
View Recipe: Chili-Spiced Almonds
Make your table monochromatic: If your plates and bowls match and are the same colors as your tablecloth or placemats, you’ll naturally eat about 5% less compared to a table set with contrasting colors.
Spritz, Don't Pour
To save calories in the kitchen, put your olive oil in a spray bottle. If you spritz versus pour, you will use a little less when cooking.
Make a Smarter Smoothie
Make a better smoothie. Use unsweetened beverages and whole fruit instead of juice, and pump up the nutrients with a handful of greens. Try this combination for an easy, 162-calorie smoothie for one: 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves + 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh honeydew + 1/3 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt.
See More: Low-Calorie Smoothies
Instead of Mixed Nuts, Reach for Trail Mix
Two handfuls of nuts may be heart-healthy, but also calorie-heavy. Downsize the 2 handfuls (1 1/2 oz) of nuts by half, and add a handful of air-popped popcorn and whole-wheat cereal, such as Chex.
Get the Most Out of Snacks
Just because it is a “100-calorie” pack doesn’t mean it is healthy. Make sure it offers fiber, protein, and possibly healthy fat. If not, skip it. Check out these 10 Snack Mix Recipes
that kids and adults will both love.
Live in the "Now"
When it comes to your health, stop worrying about what you did yesterday and start focusing on what you are doing now.
Become a Social Butterfly
Instead of filling your mouth with food at parties, try filling it with conversation.
Lighten Up Chicken Salad
Love the creaminess of mayonnaise? For a healthier alternative, try using hummus or low-fat plain Greek yogurt while making your favorite tuna, egg, or chicken salad.
View Recipe: Herbed Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Put Produce on Eye Level
To increase your fruit and veggie intake, don’t put them in a drawer in the refrigerator but rather on a shelf at eye level. The more you see them, the more likely you will be to grab for them.
Swap Cheeses, Add Veggies for a Ligher Pizza
To lower fat and calories in pizza by around half, swap mozzarella for part-skim ricotta. Make it an opportunity for vitamins and minerals by loading up on the veggies.
View Recipe: Roasted Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza
Be the First to Order
When dining out, be the first one to order. You’ll be less likely to change your mind after hearing what others are having.
Cut Beef Portions in Half
Next time you order a meaty meal, ask the server if the portion can be cut to 4 or 6 ounces. Normal servings in restaurants are 8 to 12 ounces, twice the amount needed at a sitting. A 4-ounce portion of beef is shown in this delicious recipe.
View Recipe: Balsamic-Glazed Filet Mignon
Rev Up your Morning with Water
Drink an 8-ounce glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning to rev up your metabolism. Your body is parched after 6 to 8 hours of sleep.
Wear Your Workout Clothes to Bed
Less effort in the AM means you’re more likely to rise for that early morning workout!
Give Almond Milk a Try
Try almond milk in your coffee. Not only will it add a sweet, nutty flavor without sugary syrups, you’ll save a gram of saturated fat compared to low-fat milk.
Do This Simple Interval Workout
Interval workouts prevent boredom and burn more calories. Try this 20-minute interval routine: 2-minute walk, 1-minute jog, 3-minute walk, 2-minute jog, 5-minute walk, 4-minute run, 3-minute walk—and burn about 200 calories.
Read Up on Fitness
Make it a goal to read one fitness or nutrition article each day. Studies show those who expose themselves to information develop a natural inclination to act on the advice. Read some of Cooking Light's great fitness articles
Simply Try a Smaller Plate
Studies show you’ll eat about 20-22% less calories per meal simply switching from a 12-inch to 10-inch plate.
Read the Label
Read the label on breakfast cereals and follow this advice: Less than 10 grams of sugar, 1 serving of whole grains (16g), more than 3 of grams fiber, and less than 200 calories per serving. Here are our picks for The Best Healthy Cereals.
Instead of Milk Chocolate, Reach for Dark Chocolate
Indulge in 2 satisfying squares of dark chocolate (we like 72% cacao!). Skip the milk chocolate candy bar.
A Japanese study found that faster eaters gained an average of 4.2 pounds over 8 years, while slower eaters gained only 1.5 pounds.
Turn off Your Tech for a More Restful Sleep
Light stimulates the brain, making you more awake and less likely to sleep.
Lace Up First Thing in the Morning
Keep your workout shoes next to your bed. Lace them up before your feet touch the floor in the morning and get a move on.
Up Your Potassium Intake
Potassium is important for healthy blood pressure, but most people don’t get enough. Include potassium-rich potatoes, bananas, and oranges in your snacking. Try mixing up a potassium-rich smoothie like this one.
View Recipe: Orange-Banana Smoothie
Pet a Puppy
Studies show that petting a dog or cat can immediately elevate your mood.
Grab a Handful of Almonds When Stressed
Almonds are bursting with vitamin E, an antioxidant that bolsters the immune system, and also contain B vitamins to help keep your body on track when it's under stress.
Spice It Up
The addition of nutritious, highly flavorful ingredients like fresh herbs, vinegars, and citrus can take a meal from ordinary to extraordinary. Enhance your meal without losing out on nutrition by keeping these 10 flavor-packed ingredients on hand.
Eat Protein and Fiber to Feel Full
Eat protein and fiber in every meal and snack. It will help you feel fuller longer and maintain a more stable blood sugar level, which translates to less fatigue and fewer food cravings. Lean meat is high in protein, along with these Vegetarian Protein Sources
Go For the Pulp
While pulp-free juice may be smoother, consider juicing the whole fruit instead—you’ll get more fiber and less sugar and calories.
Try Meatless Mondays
Go vegetarian one day a week. For an easy substitution in a stir fry, use 1/2 cup cubed tofu (marinated in soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and peanut oil) instead of chicken. Cook as usual with your veggies for a satisfying dinner.
View Recipe: Ginger-Scented Corn and Asparagus Stir-Fry
Make a Shopping List
Typical shoppers spend 60 to 80% of their time pushing their carts up and down aisles aimlessly, buy up to twice as much (and more of the unhealthy choices) compared to those who shop with a list and stick to it.
Move to the Beat
A recent study by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity found that women are more likely to stick to an exercise program if they listen to music.
Switch Your Latte to a Tea to Chill Out
Research shows L-theanine, an amino acid in tea, reduces feelings of stress and increases relaxation.
H2O in the AM
Hydration tip: Put a bottle of water by your bedside at night so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning, reminding you to drink up.
Pre-Lunch Piece of Fruit
Not eating enough fruit? Try having a piece before your lunch instead of afterwards. You are less likely to skip it and more likely to get full from your meal.
Scope Out Buffets
Peruse buffets first without your plate, and then decide what you really want. Our video on Holiday Party Buffet Strategies
can help you navigate buffets better.
Chop it Up
Keep a container of chopped cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes in the fridge for snacking. When they are easily accessible and already chopped, you are more likely to grab them for snacks.
Be a Generous Baker
When baking cookies or brownies, save a couple to have at home, then give the rest away to coworkers or friends to munch on too. Check out our Healthy Baking
ideas to find inspiration.
Getting a new pair of workout pants or a cool water bottle can motivate you to be active.
Learn How to Healthy Fry
Fried food lover? Master the art of faux frying. Coat veggies and meat with whipped eggs, then dip in cornmeal, flour, or panko breadcrumbs and bake.
View Recipe: Parmesan-Coated Potato Wedges
Make Workouts a Priority
We prioritize work, meals, and family time every day. Schedule time in your day for a run or gym visit too.
Sub Paprika for Bacon
Nix the bacon; use smoked paprika instead to get that smoke-infused taste.
Spice Up Seafood
Get excited about seafood by making your own yummy spice rub. Paprika + garlic powder + chili powder + cumin + salt and pepper is a good blend to start with.
View Recipe: Maple-Glazed Salmon
Cut the High-Sodium Lunchmeat
Look for lower-sodium lunchmeat at deli counters and in the prepackaged section of the market. Roast beef is usually lower-sodium than other deli meats.
Switch to Yogurt Dressings
If you love creamy dressings, consider switching to yogurt-based ranch or blue cheese, such as Bolthouse Farms brand. Find these dressings in the refrigerated aisles, next to the veggies. You can also try your hand at making you own.
View Recipe: Four-Herb Green Goddess Dressing
Veg Out for Breakfast
Work in more veggies early in the day by adding peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, or onions to your eggs for a delicious omelet. For more ideas, read 6 Ways to Eat Vegetables for Breakfast.
Plan on Sundays
Create a weekly meal plan and grocery list on Sunday—it can be a huge time saver and a good way to eat healthier. Feeling really energetic? Do all your grocery buying on Sunday too.
Do Your Chores
Catch up on household chores. Gardening, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, and washing the car all burn calories and will make your life more clean and organized.
Think Savory, Healthy Dips
We get it. Not everyone gets excited when they look at a plate of raw vegetables. But pair them with a nutty hummus, zesty ranch, creamy avocado, and fiery salsa and now we’re talking.
View Recipe: Black Bean Hummus
Make Smoothies Fruit-Filled
Make sure that fruit is the base of your smoothie creation—too much fruit juice can rapidly add calories without providing any of the heart-healthy and digestive-friendly fiber that you get from the fruit itself.
View Recipe: Pineapple Piña Colada
Use Heart-Healthy Dressings
Don’t cheat yourself on the dressing. Be moderate, but be tasteful. A few splashes of a good, heart-healthy canola- or olive-oil based dressings can do wonders to that bed of greens.
View Recipe: Classic Vinaigrette
Try New Greens
Alternate your greens from the normal Romaine or iceberg. For general rule of thumb, the darker the greens the more nutrient rich they are. Check out our Guide to Greens
for some tasty ideas!
Look for Seasonal Sales
On a budget? Check the weekly specials at your local grocery store and choose one of the items on special that week. The specials often reflect the abundance of certain seasonal produce.
Make the Farmers Market Fun for the Family
If there is a local farmers' market nearby, support your community and pay them a visit. Get the whole family involved. Allow either yourself or a family member to choose a new item from the produce section and add it to your meal.
Double Up on Veggies
In soups, salads, pastas, sandwiches, pizzas, and casseroles, most recipes call for a certain amount of vegetables. Our advice? Double the amount called for in the original recipe. You are already doing the prep work; so a little extra chopping can go a long way for your vegetable intake.
View Recipe: Orecchiette with Kale, Bacon, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Instead of a Bagel, Reach for an English Muffin
Swap the 3½-inch bagel with 1 tablespoon each cream cheese and fruity jam for a whole-wheat English muffin topped with a tablespoon of peanut butter and fresh strawberry slices and save 100 calories.
Toast the Day
Put a new twist on a breakfast standby with Ricotta-Pistachio Toast
: Spread 2 tablespoons light ricotta cheese (we love Calabro’s part-skim) on crusty whole-grain bread. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil over ricotta. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon crushed, dry-roasted, salted pistachios. Find more 200-Calorie Ideas for Toast
In-shell pistachios are a good low-cal source of protein, with a filling 6 grams of protein per ounce and only 100 calories per 30-nut serving. Researchers have found that eating in-shell pistachios resulted in eating 41% less calories compared to those who ate shelled nuts.
Find more about 5 Foods That Fight Fat.
With the perfect combo of slowly digested protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber, lentils could be the ideal energy food. Just one half cup of cooked lentils provides more protein than an egg and more than a quarter of your daily dose of fiber for only 115 calories and practically zero fat.
Find more Foods For All-Day Energy.
View Recipe: Grilled Peppers and Lentil Salad
Don’t worry about waiting an hour to hit the gym after eating. Though a full belly (ideally with healthy choices to fuel your workout) may not inspire the most vigorous workout, what matters is that you get moving.
Watch for Sneaky Sugar
Be a sugar sleuth and know how to ID sneaky names that food manufacturers use for added sugar. Words with “-oses” generally mean added sugars: sucrose, glucose, galactose, maltose, dextrose and fructose are all sugars.
Crack an Egg, and Enjoy
A recent analysis by the USDA found that today’s eggs, on average, have 14% less cholesterol and 64% more vitamin D—a nutrient everyone needs more of in winter.
Find new ways to enjoy eggs in our Top-Rated Egg Recipe collection.
An hour of winding down before bed relaxes your mind and readies it for sleep. Adults, like youngsters, benefit from a routine: Go to bed at around the same time, take a warm shower or bath, and turn off bright lights and screens.
Put Other Things Aside
When you sit down to eat, just eat. The experience is so much more vivid, so much better. Enjoy the bite you’re eating, focus on it, and finish it before you take the next. You enjoy it so much more, and you have much greater control of portion sizes.
Check the Freezer Aisle
Quick-frozen fruits and veggies—like berries, peas, and spinach—are nutritionally equal to fresh and may be better than many produce items that travel far in winter, losing nutrients along the way.
Breakfast on the Go
When it comes to breakfast on the run, it can be hard to find one with plenty of protein that’s not also oozing with saturated fat. Enter Starbuck's Protein Bistro Box, an energizing combo of fruit, peanut butter, a hard cooked egg, and multigrain muesli bread.
Find more on-the-go breakfasts in The Healthiest Fast Food Breakfasts
Lighten Up Frozen Pizza Night
If pizza is your choice for movie night, the frozen aisle has lots of healthier options. And they’re easy to jazz up with extra toppings. Newman’s Own Thin & Crispy Supreme Pizza surprisingly fits the bill with 1/3 of a pizza with only 320 calories. Find Healthy Frozen Pizzas
that are low-cal and yummy.
Mind the Day, Not the Goal
If your end goal is to lose weight, focus only on what you can do that day—not the daunting final goal. For more mindful eating tips, check out our Healthy Habits hero, Susan Albers, PsyD