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A Year Full of Healthy Challenges

A Year Full of Healthy Challenges

Happy 2022! This is the year to take charge of your well- being! Let’s begin our healthy eating journey at a slow and steady pace, without sprinting. Small simple adjustments can produce the biggest results. Read on to learn month-by-month tips by focusing on one small change at a time. Hopefully you’ll end the year with a healthier you!

January- Get Moving
This is a good time to get off of the couch and shed some of those holiday pounds. Join a gym, take up a new winter sport, download a new fitness app on your phone, or gather up your friends for a walking club. The challenge: 60 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week.

February- Cut the Fat
Help your heart this month by choosing healthier monounsaturated fats (fish, nuts, seeds, avocados) and keeping their portions under control. The challenge: Swap out a fatty condiment for mustard or salsa and save yourself a 10 pound weight gain at year’s end.

March- Start Cooking
Only when we cook do we really control what we eat. So… dust off that cookbook and get back to basic, healthy meals. Restaurants and fast food outlets serve up food that is usually high in fat, sodium and calories. The challenge: Cook 3 more meals a week than you usually do. Remember, breakfast and lunch count too…you have 21 chances a week.

April- Decrease Screen Time
Spend less time watching tv, checking social media sites, texting and playing video games. This challenge is for adults, teens and children! The challenge: Spend 2 hours or less of leisure time a day in front of the tv, table, smartphone or computer.

May- Lose the Salt
Excess sodium in the diet is linked with high blood pressure and raises your risk for heart disease and stroke. Avoid obvious sources of sodium, processed foods and read food labels. The challenge: Limit your daily intake of sodium to 1500-2300 mg sodium and try 3 new herbs to flavor your food.

June- Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Take advantage of the opening of Farmers’ Markets this month! Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in these foods are important in fighting certain diseases. The challenge: Try 1 new fruit or vegetable each week this month.

July- Eat More Fish
Choose fish that is higher in brain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, such as herring, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, oysters, salmon, trout and tuna. The challenge: Eat fish or seafood at least 2 times per week.

August- Eat More Whole Grains
Whole grains contain more fiber, protein, B vitamins and healthy fats than their refined counterparts. The challenge: Add 3 servings of whole grains to your meals each day with 1 new whole grain each week.

September- Start Your Day with Breakfast
A balanced breakfast can help kick-start your metabolism and provide the fuel you need to get through the day. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day! The challenge: Make the most of your mornings and eat breakfast 5-7 days per week.

October- Go Vegetarian
Americans tend to eat too much meat. Look for alternate sources of protein like eggs, fish, cheese, dried peas/beans/legumes, nuts/seeds and quinoa. The challenge: Have a vegetarian meal at least 1 day per week…think “Meatless Mondays”.

November- Get Enough Sleep
Studies show that sleep deprivation leads to problems with weight control and obesity. Take advantage of turning back the clocks this month and plan for more shut-eye! The challenge: Re-energize your body with 7-9 hours of sleep most nights of the week.

December- Practice Portion Control
Taste makes waist! Use measuring spoons and cups to get serving sizes down to where they should be. The challenge: Cut portion sizes of higher calorie foods in half at least 1 meal per day.

Dawn Davoli​​

Dawn Davoli, Registered Dietitian is a frequent presenter at the Excela Health Mall Walkers program and also provides education through public speaking engagements and the school-based program “Healthy Habits”.