If your resolution in 2020 is to lose weight, try these six mini resolutions that will upgrade your health. Even write them on your calendar — one for each week, to help remind you. Research has found it helps to break down resolutions into smaller action plans for success.
Make protein a part of every meal. Go beyond that steak for dinner. We need protein in the morning, too. Consuming a meal with protein makes us feel fuller and helps us eat fewer calories overall. Add a hard-boiled egg to your breakfast, powered peanut butter to your oatmeal or a cup of Greek yogurt or high-protein cereal to your fruit.
Add more plants to your meals. I’m not advocating a total vegetarian meal plan, but I do think all of us can benefit from a more plant-based diet, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and obesity. You can swap half the meat in your tacos with beans, add more veggies in your lasagna or go a step further and have meatless Mondays for a month.
Start your meals with a broth-based soup or salad. They can fill you up and help get more nutrients in your diet. Go easy on the dressing, nuts and cheese on the salad, and boost the carrots, cucumber and tomatoes.
Focus on fiber. We need 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day — most of us get about half that. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Swap brown rice for white, eat the skin on a baked potato and choose whole-wheat bread. Start the month with adding two fruits and vegetables a day as snacks. Or add chia or flax to your oatmeal, cereal or yogurt.
Drink more water. Take a week to give up soda, tea, coffee or whatever sweetened beverage you typically drink. A glass of water before a meal also can help reduce hunger. Try packing a bottle of water with you wherever you go.
Try new recipes, especially those that align with your goal of eating healthier. Most of us buy the same things at the grocery store and fix the same rotating 6-10 meals. Consider a vegetable or meal challenge for a month so you don’t eat the same food fixed the same way.
Q: What is metabolic syndrome?
A: It’s a group of conditions rather than a single disease. These related health problems include too much belly fat, high triglycerides, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
When you have at least three of these issues, your chances for heart disease, stroke and diabetes are increased. To prevent metabolic syndrome, lose weight, exercise and cut back on calories.
Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole
Here’s a new recipe to try from Cooking Light. It has 5 fewer teaspoons of added sugar per serving than traditional versions.
» 3 pounds sweet potatoes (5 to 6 medium)
» ½ cup evaporated whole milk
» 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
» 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
» 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
» 1 teaspoon black pepper
» 2 large eggs, separated
» Cooking spray
» ¾ cup chopped walnuts
» ¼ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
» 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
» ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap potatoes individually in foil. Arrange on a baking sheet. Roast at 350 degrees until very tender, 60 to 75 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.
Peel potatoes; discard skins. Place potatoes in a large bowl; mash until smooth. Cool completely, about 20 minutes. Stir in milk, butter, vanilla, salt, pepper and egg yolks.
Spread mixture evenly in 2-quart glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Whisk egg whites in a medium bowl until frothy. Stir in walnuts, oats, brown sugar and cardamom. Sprinkle evenly over sweet potato mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, until top is toasted and edges are bubbling, 40 to 50 minutes.
Serves 12 (serving size: about ½ cup)
Per serving: 220 calories; 5 grams protein; 31 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams sugars (2 grams added); 9 grams fat; 4 grams fiber; 327 milligrams sodium
— Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Springfield, Ill., and the media representative for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd, or click here for additional columns. The opinions expressed are her own.