This month nutritionist and Clean Plates founder Jared Koch is offering weekly tips to help you meet your health goals in 2012. See tips from week 1, week 2 and week 3 and read this week’s tips below.
1. Skip Meat One Day a Week
Part of becoming healthier is learning what works best for your body, and that means experimenting to some extent with different ways of eating. Some people thrive on a vegan or vegetarian diet, while others need animal proteins. Starting this week, make it a habit to try going meat-free one day a week for a couple months, and write down how you feel. What’s your mood like? Your energy level? Do you feel heavy in your body, or light? Learn about the Meatless Monday campaign, and find healthy vegetarian restaurants in NYC and LA with our Restaurant Finder.
2. Go Nuts
Experiment with having a handful of unsalted, organic nuts as a snack throughout the day. Nuts provide a mix of good quality fat and protein, with brain boosting properties. I think you’ll find they leave you satiated, and help you avoid processed snacks.
3. Mind Your Cravings
Craving sugar? Salt? Grease? Try a glass of water and see how you feel. If you’re feeling really brave, try just observing the craving without acting on it until it passes. By creating a little space between feeling your cravings and acting on them, you’ll be more likely to make choices that address your body’s underlying needs — from thirst to rest to actual hunger. Keep in mind that sometimes, emotional or psychological cravings masquerade as food cravings; if you think this might be happening, try writing down your feelings and taking a deep breath before you reach for a snack.
4. Sleep Tight
Many people struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, when we’re sleep-deprived, it throws off the hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. This week, take steps to help yourself get the rest you need. Specifically, try going to bed and waking up at the same times each day. This consistency helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythms, which boosts your immune system and leaves you feeling more energetic and mentally sharp. You might also try implementing a relaxing bedtime routine, including some time away from the TV and computer for at least an hour before you turn in.
5. Read and Learn
In past weeks I’ve recommended Food Rules by Michael Pollan, Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David and the movie Food, Inc. as resources to help you boost your knowledge about healthy eating. This week, I recommend picking up a copy of Eight Weeks to Optimum Health by Dr. Andrew Weil. It’s a user-friendly, step-by-step guide to healthy living packed with up-to-date research on a range of nutrition topics, from a physician with Western medical training as well as decades of experience providing holistic care.
Does one of these steps sound especially daunting to you? Does one sound like a breeze? Remember, big change starts with small steps. Do your best this week, and take pleasure knowing that you’re taking positive steps for your health.
Image of almonds by Flickr user Nomadic Lass. Image of sleeping woman courtesy of iStockphoto.