Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Health
Ten healthy habits for the new year
Adapted by Jessica Kovarik, RD, LD, former Extension Associate, from materials by Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
Weight loss is often included in the list of resolutions for the
new year. Instead of going on another diet, choose to adopt healthy
habits for a lifetime. To get started, here are ten suggestions based
on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Engage in 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This
helps to reduce the risk of chronic diseases. To lose weight or maintain
weight loss, 60-90 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity is recommended.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Fruits and
vegetables are high in nutrients and low in fat and calories. By
incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet on
a daily basis, you are decreasing your risk of chronic diseases,
vitamin deficiencies and other health problems.
- Get plenty of fiber: 20-35 grams each day. Fiber has many
health benefits including reducing risks for chronic disease such
as cardiovascular disease and cancer. When you are increasing fiber
in your diet, make sure you increase fluid intake as well.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains. Choose from
oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn, cereal, tortillas and bread. To assure
the bread is whole grain, make sure the first grain ingredient listed
on the package is whole wheat or another whole grain.
- Eat three cups of beans every week. Beans are packed with
fiber, vitamins and minerals. One half cup of cooked beans can have
as much as seven grams of fiber.
- Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Extra
weight and unhealthy eating habits begin when hunger and full cues
are ignored. Make sure that when you eat it is because of hunger
and not thirst or boredom. If you are not sure, try drinking a glass
of water or do another activity. If you're still hungry a little
while later, you'll know it probably is hunger.
- Limit total fat to no more than 25-35% of total calories.
For a person consuming 2,000 calories per day, this means about 67
grams of fat per day. Saturated fat should be no more than 10 percent
of total calories, or about 22 grams. Young children (1–3 years)
can get about 30–40% of their calories from fat because they are
- Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups. Choose
grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat and beans because
each group provides different nutrients needed for good health.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. By being properly
hydrated, your body can function at its best. Water is the best choice,
but low-fat milk and 100 percent juice are also good choices when
- Be a safe food handler. Keep food safe in your household
by washing your hands often and keeping kitchen surfaces clean. Cook
foods to a safe temperature to kill bacteria and then promptly refrigerate.
Bacteria can grow at temperatures of 40° F to 140° F.
Habits are hard to change. Choose one goal at a time to work on and then move on to the next to ensure you meet your health goals. Soon, you’ll feel better and be healthier!
Last update: Monday, January 05, 2015