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SALT LAKE CITY — With the new year, many often want to start eating healthier — which usually means a new diet. But diets can be restrictive, complicated and difficult to stick with, often leaving people feeling discouraged and hopeless.
This is why, instead of recommending a new diet to help individuals become healthier, I like to give people tips on how to make eating healthy easier. Being healthy shouldn’t be stressful or hinder your mental health. Truly living a healthy life is a balance between physical (diet and exercise) and mental health. With that in mind, here are four easy tips to start your year on a healthy note.
Taking a few minutes out of your week to plan meals and snacks can be an easy way to start the year off on a healthy note without starting a new diet. Try to plan ahead by picking one day every week where you plan out meals and snacks for the upcoming week. I like to do this on a Sunday or Monday before I go grocery shopping. This way I have a complete list of all the food and ingredients I need to make it through the week.
Planning ahead not only helps me eat healthier, it also helps me save money because I am not wasting food. When you are planning ahead, try to select fruits and vegetables you enjoy eating as a healthy snack.
An important part of having a healthy body is taking care of your physical and mental health. Take time to create a self-care plan. A self-care plan can help you recharge and care for your mental health. I loved the explanation of self-care given by three therapists on the "Thoughts on Thoughts" podcast. It may surprise you to know that sometimes true self-care requires doing hard things that are beneficial. This can mean waking up early to have time to yourself, even when you aren’t a morning person.
Stop the diet
It isn’t hard to find the newest or most popular diet on the internet. Those diets can often be complex and difficult to follow. It can be discouraging when you start these diets and end up quitting a few weeks later. There is a much simpler way to start the year off on a healthy note: stop dieting.
Try taking a more intuitive approach to how you eat. Intuitive eating is a lifestyle that encourages individuals to listen to their bodies’ needs instead of restricting foods and dieting in any form. IntuitiveEating.org lists more detailed information about intuitive eating on its website.
Instead of starting the year on a new and complicated diet, try eating more intuitively and listening to your body. Don’t fear or restrict foods; make peace with food and start enjoying eating again.
Exercising doesn’t have to be complicated. I have two simple tips to make exercising easier for you to start and maintain.
- Move your body in a way that is enjoyable for you. If you don’t like running, then don’t run. Find another enjoyable way to move your body.
- Start small. You don’t need to be able to lift 200 pounds the first day or run 12 miles. Start small and work up to more intense and challenging workouts.
It is much easier to maintain a healthy exercise routine if you are doing something you enjoy and aren’t pushing your body too hard, too fast.
So often we think being healthy needs to be hard or complicated. But living a healthy, balanced lifestyle isn’t that way at all. Take a step back and try to honestly assess how your diet, exercise and mental health are doing this new year, and then start making simple changes to improve them.
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