What better time than the new year to reflect on changes you can make to be healthier, trim down and firm up?

Some of CHI Health's dietitians and weight management experts offer 16 easy-to-follow tips to help make 2016 a healthy and fun year.

Ready. Set. Go! “Stop wasting your time thinking too much and start acting,” registered dietitian Silvia Herszkopf said. “You’ll be able to accomplish more things once you make those thoughts a reality. Start the new year moving.”

Ditch the added sugars. “Choose fruits instead with natural sugar and fiber in place of sugar-sweetened desserts,” registered dietitian Julie Farmer said. “Have you tried frozen grapes or slices of mango with a sprinkle of chili powder? Before long you will find that you can be satisfied with less added sugar in your diet.” 

Retrace your steps. “I see a lot of busy working moms who don’t always have time or the financial resources to go to the gym,” registered dietitian Kellie Westbrook said. Her suggestion: Round up the laundry in your home, walk to the washing machine and put a load of clothes in but don’t turn it on. Walk back to where you started. Then walk back again to turn the machine on. Same thing with the dryer.

Treat every day as a fresh start. “Sometimes people feel if they didn’t meet their goals – on a diet, exercise, whatever – that it’s a lost cause, and they just give up,” registered dietitian Sara Kvien Jensen said.

“It’s okay to have setbacks! Everyone does...Forgive yourself for cheating and move forward with your healthy choices. One splurge meal – or day – will not ruin your health, just as one salad will not make you healthy.”

Plan, plan, plan. “Find healthy recipes that you can make ahead or just warm up on those nights you have a lot of activities. Or pre-portion so you can grab food for your lunch at work,” registered dietitian Holly Vail said. “Pre-portion snacks like grapes and almonds in the proper sizes so you can grab those in place of high-calorie snacks.”

Ban junk food. Registered dietitian Erica Jackson said, “Keep junk food out of the house, or at least out of sight.”

Compete with friends. Clinical dietitian Mary Teague said her FitBit has motivated her to move. “It is fun to participate in challenges. Many of us spend a majority of time sitting in front of a computer so we have to plan to exercise, get steps in and move!” 

Tap into some apps. Clinical dietitian Kristine Walahoski suggested phone apps that track your exercise and calorie intake. “Keeping track is one way to make and keep you aware of what you’re consuming,” she said. “You’d be surprised how fast calories add up when you’re not paying attention! And once you’re on a roll, they can help keep you motivated to continue making good choices.”

Be real. “Healthy eating is not always convenient,” said registered dietitian Maureen Hilderbrand. Remind yourself often that it’s not easy, but the results are worth it, she said.

Aim for lots of color. “Have plenty of variety on your plate,” said clinical nutrition supervisor Ashli Hoos. “Fruits and vegetables provide all kinds of different nutrients and are good for you. Shake it up a little and try some new ones.”

Get some new best friends. “Make soup and salad your best friends,” said registered dietitian Mary Kucirek. “That includes broth-based soups and salads built on colorful veggies, along with protein like lean meats, fish, beans, etc.”

“Pair your salad either with a small fruit, whole-grain crackers or low-fat dairy, such as milk or yogurt. You’ll have a complete meal that is not only healthful but impossible to eat fast. That ensures a feeling of satiety with fewer calories.”

Delete distractions. “Focus on your food when you are eating,” said registered dietitian Wei Kay Eng. “We tend to eat more without realizing it if we get distracted with other things like watching TV or working at your desk.”

Go flexitarian. “A flexitarian is someone who still eats all types of animal products but simply eats less,” registered dietitian Chelsea Gauer said. “...Research has shown time and again that people who eat less meat and dairy maintain healthier weights throughout their lifetime.” They also may have better cholesterol levels.

Try skipping meat and dairy products three to four times a week. Not ready to go a whole day without? Try a vegetarian cookbook, then add meat or dairy as desired. This will help you try new plant-based recipes, get more veggies in your diet and discover new healthy foods you’ve never had before.

Interrogate yourself. Ask yourself if you’re truly hungry before reaching for that snack, said registered dietitian Carol Kolo.

“Sometimes we need more hydration, not food,” she said. “Have a glass of water, cup of tea or make your own homemade flavored water with a piece of cucumber or a piece of citrus peel.” Or try a stick of gum. Brush and floss your teeth. Or postpone the snack and start a new task to keep you busy for five to 10 minutes. You may decide to pass on the snack.

Think proactive, not reactive. Consume high-volume, low-calorie foods. “You can stay full on foods such as fruits and vegetables, while also drinking plenty of water or calorie-free drinks,” advanced practice registered nurse Cora Villagomez said.

Blot it. Soak up that top layer of grease from your pizza with a napkin. Researchers at Labdoor Magazine experimented with a 14-inch pizza from a national chain. They found dabbing the grease cut 40 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.

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