It’s resolution time again.  And it is very easy to set ourselves up for failure by setting goals that will be impossible to reach.  Most people have given up their resolutions the second week of the new year precisely for this reason.

This year it may be more reasonable to pick goals that will help you improve the quality of your diet which can’t help but improve your health.

Five Food Actions for Better Health in 2018

Cook your own food.

Not only does this save money but it is much healthier for us.  Many commercially prepared foods are high in fat, salt, and sugar. When we prepare our own food, we know exactly which ingredients and how much of each are going into our food.

Portion control is one of the biggest issues when it comes to losing weight.  Many restaurants offer portion sizes that are sometimes twice the size or more of what is recommended. The challenge is when is food is placed in front of you, it is hard to avoid eating the whole thing.

Eat more fermented foods.

Improving your microbiome will be one of the biggest trends in 2018.  Our microbiome is a community of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses that inhabit our body particularly in the GI tract, the skin and mouth.  It turns out that these “bugs” can have a profound impact on the strength of the immune system, the well-being of the digestive system, mood and risk for heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Eating more fermented foods is an easy recommendation to incorporate into your routine. All you need is about 2 to 4 Tablespoons of fermented food per day. Great choices include pickles, sauerkraut or any fermented vegetable, kimchi, kombucha, fermented miso and tempeh. Here is the rub, though. Make sure the label says “raw”, “fermented” or “brined”. The best place to find these foods is in the deli refrigerator. Make sure vinegar is not added to the brine as it destroys the healthy bugs. If you tolerate dairy, yogurt and kefir can be good sources.

Drink more water.

This is one of the easiest ways to increase your energy and control your appetite.  It is estimated that 70% of us don’t drink enough water!  And many of us mistake thirst for hunger.  To keep yourself well hydrated, set your goal to consume half of your body weight in ounces of water.  See my blog at SmartNutritionLLC.com for some great tips on this.

Practice mindful eating.

Instead of dieting this year, consider mindful eating to help you reach your goals.  In our culture, most of the eating we do is totally mindless.  We grab a protein bar here or a pastry and coffee there as we head into work or drive the kids to an appointment or game.  In this scenario, it is practically impossible to be aware of what you are eating. This often leads to cravings and more eating.

Mindfulness refers to being aware and in the moment.  Most of us have about ten other things on our minds.  We are preoccupied about what happened yesterday and worried about what is going to happen tomorrow.  And stressed about what might happen next week.

One of the best tips to help you be more mindful is to start writing down what you eat.  This will help you to observe yourself.  Check in by asking yourself questions.  Are you hungry? OR is it stress?  Boredom? Restlessness?  What’s the trigger in your environment encouraging you to eat?  What does hunger feel like to you?  What do you need in this moment? Is it really hunger or an emotional craving?  How do you know if you are full?

Eat a plant based diet.

This does not mean you need to become a vegan!  The standard American diet is based on substantial servings of animal protein every day.  Try eating more plant foods like fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, whole grains and legumes.  If you don’t now, try eating meatless one day a week.  Evaluate where you are starting from and keep it simple.  If you aren’t eating 2 ½ cups of veggies and fruits every day start there.

Working to take small realistic steps will help you establish longer lasting results which will make a more profound impact on your health.