On January 14, 2015 CDiabetes.com was joined by Dr. Lori Shemek for a Tweet chat full of advice and tips for your New Year’s Resolutions – or just getting started living a healthier lifestyle. Here’s some of the valuable information from that event.
What’s the most challenging thing about keeping a New Year’s Resolution on track?
First of all, don’t make resolutions that are too big and unattainable. Think simple and break down any goal into smaller attainable steps. That way you can experience success – every day!
If your resolution is to eat healthier and lose weight, the best way to succeed is to plan ahead and prepare. For instance, if you tend to run late or snack on the go, you’re facing more challenges than just “what should I eat?” So, give yourself a safety net: carry healthy foods, like nuts, seeds, whole fruit, string cheese or turkey jerky, to stop hunger and cravings.
Should I tell my friends about my new eating plan and food requirements?
Yes! It’s always helpful to have friends who are supportive and encouraging. Not only can they help you stay strong when temptation sets in, but being accountable will actually help you to stay on track.
How can I avoid food challenges?
The best way to avoid food challenges is to not feel deprived. Don’t go hungry; eat small, frequent meals full of fruits and vegetables for fiber, and lean proteins to help you stay satisfied
If you’re going out, curb your appetite before you dine. Eat a protein source and a healthy fat or take a fiber supplement with a glass of water 20 minutes before leaving. Protein balances blood sugar and triggers a hormone that stops cravings and hunger.
If you’re going to a restaurant, see if their menu is posted on-line so you can decide what to eat before you get there.
If you’re at a buffet, fill half your plate with vegetables – they keep you satisfied while reducing calories. And don’t stand too close to the buffet table.
What’s the best way for me to fit in exercise?
The easiest way to “exercise” is simply to increase your overall daily activity. Use a pedometer to count steps and aim for 10,000 steps/day. Sitting all day is very unhealthy – so you want to be getting up and moving around anyway.
You can also take a walk 3 or 4 days a week or, if time is an issue, break up your daily exercise into several shorter sessions.
It’s important that you keep to your exercise routine. Schedule exercise for a specific time and stick to it – just like you would a doctor’s appointment.
How important is sleep? Do I have to sleep 8 hours?
Sleep is important, no matter what! Try to get at least 7 hours.
Lack of sleep increases your appetite and your desire for comfort foods. It also makes you less physically active. And, because getting enough sleep is key to preventing the fat storing hormone cortisol, lack of sleep can also increase stress and belly fat!
Am I more likely to get sick if I change my eating habits?
Fad diets – where you don’t get enough nutrients, or completely eliminate a particular food group – can affect your immune system’s ability to function properly. If you add stress to that, you may be lowering your resistance to viruses.
Instead, eat healthy, balanced meals and boost your immune system by eating foods rich in antioxidants, like fruits and vegetables.
You could also take a multivitamin for illness prevention and optimal health.
I’m eating healthy and losing weight – can I still have a drink?
Yes – in moderation, which is 1 glass/day for women, and 2 glass/day for men. Beyond that, alcohol can lead to overeating, and alcohol temporarily keeps your body from burning fat. It’s also a source of excess calories.
I have young children – how can I feed them while sticking to my eating plan?
Healthy eating should be a family affair. Make balanced meals for your whole family. Follow the principles of the Mediterranean diet: mostly vegetables and healthy fats.
It’s really about letting your children experience different foods, which lays a great foundation for their own healthy eating throughout their lives. So involve them in the cooking process. They will eat what they cook, and love it!