2021 is here, and for many, the start of a new year gives us the motivation we need to make healthy changes in our lives. Whether you enjoy the tradition of New Year’s resolutions or prefer setting new goals for yourself at any time of the year, improving your health can seem like a daunting task— but it doesn’t have to be.
To make sure you don’t abandon your resolutions after a month or two, make sure you’re setting SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This technique is a great way to keep yourself focused and accountable so that you can achieve your goals. Let’s look at some examples of SMART resolutions to make 2021 your healthiest year yet:
Drink more water: If you’re simply trying to up your intake, you can set an hourly goal for yourself, like drinking 1 glass of water every hour between 9 am and 5 pm. Another great way to do this is to replace your usual daily soda or second or third coffee with a glass of water— this way, you can cut back on sugar and stay hydrated at the same time!
Reduce screen time: Now, more than ever, we depend on our phones, computers, and TVs for both work and entertainment, which is why it’s increasingly important to take some intentional time off. Set a goal to spend no more than 30 minutes on social media daily and use your phone’s screen time feature to hold yourself accountable. Alternatively, you can build screen-free time into your daily routine, like putting your electronics in a separate room an hour before you go to bed.
Eat more fruits and vegetables: Both are necessary for you to get the vitamins and minerals you need, and together, they should make up half your plate at each meal (check out our basics of a balanced diet post to learn more!). Set a goal to eat 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables throughout the day— every meal or snack is an opportunity!
Exercise regularly: If you prefer traditional workouts, you can aim for at least four 30-minute workouts weekly. That’s not the only way to get exercise, though. If you find yourself sitting most of the day, you can start taking a 5-minute walk every two hours (walking is a great cardio exercise!).
Get more sleep: Sleep is essential for good health. Setting a bedtime for yourself and following that schedule every night helps regulate your body’s clock so that you can fall asleep faster and sleep better. How much sleep you need can vary from person to person, but most adults should get at least 7 hours per night.
Wanting to improve your health is a great decision that you should be proud of yourself for taking. If you choose to focus on any of the goals above, don’t forget to modify them as needed to make them attainable and relevant for you. Happy New Year, and as always, stay healthy and stay safe!
Last Friday, October 16th, was World Food Day— one that is particularly special, because it marks 75 years since the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Since 1945, the FAO has been working towards the goal of eradicating hunger around the world, believing firmly that everyone has a right to have access to healthy food. World Food Day is the perfect opportunity to examine your own eating habits and make sure you are eating in a way that is nutritious and balanced. Luckily, there’s a tool that helps you do just that.
In 2011, Michelle Obama and the US Department of Agriculture launched MyPlate, a simple visual aid that you can use to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need with each meal you eat.
MyPlate makes healthy eating easier. Let’s break it down:
Half your plate should be fruits and vegetables. These can be raw, cooked, fresh, frozen, canned, or dried—the options are truly limitless. Try to eat a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables throughout the day. For example, you can eat dark-green vegetables like spinach with one meal, and red and orange vegetables with the next. A healthy plate is a colorful one!
Grains are an important source of fuel for your body. When you eat grains, try to choose whole grains (like whole wheat bread) over refined grains (like white bread), since they’re not only more nutritious, but they also cause your blood sugar to increase less than refined grains do.
Protein is another food group you should be consuming everyday, and meat isn’t the only way to eat it. You can also get your protein from nuts, seeds, eggs, beans, peas, and soy products.
Dairy products are rich in calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein. For peak nutritional value, try to choose low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheeses over full-fat ones. If you can’t eat dairy, certain juices, cereals, soy products, non-dairy milks, and leafy greens can also be good sources of calcium.
Remember, a healthy lifestyle isn’t built overnight. Start by making small changes to your diet and committing to sticking to them, which will help you stay healthy in the long-term. A nutritious diet is a right that you, and everyone else in the world, deserves to have.
If you’re interested in learning more about the UN’s initiatives to end world hunger, you can check out the UN Food and Agriculture Organization website or support the World Food Programme (at no cost to yourself!) at FreeRice.com. Happy World Food Day, and as always, stay healthy and stay safe!
More than 34 million American have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar, aka glucose. Glucose is an important source of fuel for the body, and if the body cannot metabolize sugar correctly, then you may experience symptoms such as:
Areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck
When you have type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin, which is a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into the cells in your body, or it doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. When your body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, you may start to experience the symptoms above.
If you suspect that you may have developed type 2 diabetes or that you are at risk of developing it due to environmental factors, genetics, and/or lifestyle factors, then it may be time to see a doctor. Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed using the:
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test: This blood test indicates the average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months. Normal levels are below 5.7%, and a result between 5.7 and 6.4% is considered pre-diabetes, while an A1C 6.5% or higher means that you have diabetes.
To treat and manage type 2 diabetes, you may need to:
Possibly include diabetes medication or insulin therapy
Monitor your blood sugar
By losing just 5-10% of your body weight, you can make a difference in your A1C because losing weight can lower your blood sugar levels. To do this, you may need to eat fewer calories, fewer refined carbohydrates, fewer foods that contain saturated fats, and more vegetables and fruits, especially those that contain a lot of fiber. Changing your diet plus aiming for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate (or 15 to 30 minutes of vigorous) mixed aerobic exercise and resistance training offers more benefits than either type of exercise alone. Examples of these exercises are:
Aerobic: Walking, Dancing, Biking, and Swimming
Resistance: Yoga and Weightlifting
If you have any questions about type 2 diabetes, or think that you may have it or be at risk for it, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay safe and healthy!