By Kim Naraine
The new year offers a prime opportunity to establish healthy goals or return to good habits. Here are a few suggestions to help you get your 2016 off to the very best of starts.
Avoid High-Calorie Drinks with Your Meals
Beverages can be a hidden source of energy. Not only can they increase the number of calories you consume, but research shows that combining high-calorie drinks with meals also limits your fat oxidation (1). This can lead to weight gain. Having water with your meals will limit energy intake and leave your fat oxidation unchanged. Other low-calorie beverages include coconut water, unsweetened nut milk and green tea. Although it is best to avoid those decadent gourmet coffees or tempting sodas, the study in question showed that even something as seemingly healthy as orange juice can lead to unwanted changes in your metabolism. Eating a fresh orange at the end of your meal can be a leaner alternative. You will still get a generous dose of Vitamin C and potassium while avoiding excess calories and their side effects.
Watch your portion size
End of year celebrations tend to skew our perspective of how much we should eat. Canada’s Food Guide (CFG) offers a simple reminder of healthy serving sizes for foods from all four of the food groups. For instance, did you know that a single serving of meat, fish or poultry is 75g? That is roughly the size of your palm. The CFG also offers alternative suggestions for meat and dairy products, as well as tips to help you establish and maintain a balanced diet. Health Canada also offers a version tailored to First Nations, Inuit and Métis. You can download your copy here.
Eat your vegetables
Vegetables are a great addition to any meal or a convenient light snack between meals. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, and low in calories. The USDA promotes the idea of the sustainable plate, suggesting that vegetables and legumes (such as chickpeas and kidney beans) make up ½ of your meal. Not only will this diet keep you on a healthy path, but it will reduce your environmental impact. You can learn more about it here.
A good night’s rest will do you a world of good. It has been suggested that sleep deprivation may lead to poor food choices (2), which, in turn, can lead to unwanted weight gain. In fact, sleep deprivation increases ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite (3). A natural way to ensure a restful night can be as easy as having a glass of juice. Research shows that tart cherry juice can reduce insomnia (4) and regulate sleep patterns. Cherry juice contains melatonin, an antioxidant that plays a key role in our sleep cycle, and consumption of melatonin may improve both how long and how well we sleep (5). For best results, make a habit of drinking 1 cup of tart cherry juice (and not a high sugar juice blend) at least 1 hour before bed.
These are just a few simple steps you can take to living and eating well in the new year. Stay tuned to Kalya for more tips, tricks and recipes to inspire your healthy lifestyle.
(1) Stookey, J. D., Hamer, J., Espinoza, G., Higa, A., Ng, V., Tinajero-Deck, L., …King, J. C. (2012). Orange juice limits postprandial fat oxidation after breakfast in normal-weight adolescents and adults. Advances in Nutrition, 3, 629S-635S.
(2) Imaki, M., Hatanaka, Y., Ogawa, Y., Yoshida, Y., & Tanada, S. (2002). An epidemiological study on relationship between the hours of sleep and life style factors in Japanese factory workers. Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science, 21, 115-20.
(3) Schmid, S. M., Hallschmid, M., Jauchara, K., Born, J., & Schultes, B. (2008). A single night of sleep deprivation increases grelin levels and feeling of hunger in normal-weight healthy men. Journal of Sleep Research, 17, 331-334.
(4) Pigeon, W. R., Carr, M., Gorman, M. C., & Perlis, M. L. (2010). Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: A pilot study. Journal of Medicinal Food, 13 (3), 579-583.
(5) Howatson, G., Bell, P. G., Tallent, J., Middleton, B., McHugh, M. P., & Ellis, J. (2012). Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. European Journal of Nutrition, 51 (8), 909-916.