With a new year, many decide to recommit themselves to living a healthier lifestyle. These changes often include making tweaks to one's diet and exercise routine.

Follow along as Megan Stanley MS, RD, LDN, discusses how to incorporate manageable, long-term changes to your diet and exercise routine to improve your overall health versus ineffective fad diets and "quick fixes"!

Part of a healthy diet is meeting your fruit and vegetable needs. The daily recommendation for adults is 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1 ½-2 cups of fruit per day. These foods are important for overall health because they contain fiber for gut health, water for hydration, and essential vitamins and minerals in their natural forms. All of these nutrients help with weight control and preventing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

 
One way to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables is by limiting your intake of processed foods. Processed foods contain high concentrations of saturated fats and added sugars. These contribute to obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Replacing calorie-dense processed foods with nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats a few times per week can make drastic changes to your health.
 
However, this does not mean you can never indulge in processed treats like ice cream or potato chips. The key is to pay attention to portion sizes and frequency of intake. If you are looking for the crunch of potato chips, choose your favorite crunchy vegetable and pair it with a dip like hummus. If you are looking for a sweet treat, try adding fruit to a low-sugar yogurt. Making these swaps every once in a while can help add nutrients and decrease calorie intake.
 
You may be tempted to try one of the many fad diets out there as a "quick fix" to improve your health in the new year. Unfortunately, these fad diets often lead to a too low-calorie intake or eliminate essential nutrients from the diet, which can be bad for your health. If you are considering trying one of these diet plans, avoid ones that completely cut out a food group, require you to only consume foods in liquid form, or decrease your calorie level to one that is too low for your age and height.
 
Another important part of overall health is exercise. Exercise benefits your cardiovascular health, blood sugar levels, and mood. However, it is not the end all be all to weight loss. A poor diet cannot be out-worked by a new fitness routine. The best solution is to make a few changes towards a healthier diet, while also working out to reap all the health benefits, not only with a focus on weight loss. If you are looking to start a new fitness routine, talk to your physician to identify a plan that is safe for your individual health needs.
 
These tips provide some basic guidelines for reaching a healthier you! If you need additional guidance improving your health or decreasing your weight, seek out a health professional, such as a physician or a registered dietitian. These individuals can help you use healthy methods to reach your goals and help you start 2021 on the path to good health!
 
If you have questions or are interested in learning more about nutrition topics, email your inquiries and suggestions to contactus@orthopedicone.com