Friday, December 26, 2014

10 Best Dietary New Year's Resolutions

Many people think that New Year's resolutions are a waste of time. People who hold on to this perception, however, base their views on the many failures they have either experienced personally or watched others go through. Yes, too many people spend time coming up with resolutions which are eventually forgotten or only partially implemented.

For these people, resolutions are indeed exercises in futility.

On the other hand, there are some people out there who not only come up with great New Year's resolutions but they actually end up completing and benefitting from them. Subscribing to New Year's resolutions, then, is not the problem. Problems arise either because participants lack the stick-to-itiveness/discipline to complete their goals or they simply create or espouse poorly-constructed resolutions.

For the record, a good New Year's resolution is:
  • Practical
  • Realistic
  • Measurable
  • Based on sound (scientific) reasoning
  • Compatible with one's lifestyle, resources and abilities
Beyond choosing the right type of resolution, it's also about having the right attitude, expectations and a workable plan. For example, do you realize that your dietary habits will greatly affect how you feel mentally/intellectually, what kinds of activities you can safely engage in, and, more importantly, how long you may live.

With that in mind, here are 10 realistic and likely-to-be beneficial dietary New Year's resolutions:

1. Eat fewer processed foods. Processed foods are heavily laced with all kinds of dangerous chemicals--most of them of a preservative, appetite-enhancement or appearance/taste amelioration type. Instead, go for natural foods; examples are raw fruits and vegetables, meats cut at your local butcher and nuts/grains obtained from local farms.

2. Eliminate or greatly reduce consumption of fast foods. There are very few nutrients in fast foods--most probably because they are often fried or processed. While you are on the road, these foods may be convenient but a viable alternative is to bring your own snacks and meals.

3. Be choosy as to how you quench your thirst. Most beverages out there are bad for your health, especially alcoholic beverages, carbonated drinks, and even otherwise-healthy drinks injected with artificial sweeteners. Your best bet is to drink filtered water (if drinking tap) or bottled water from a reputable dealer.

4. Stay well-read on the latest dietary development, trends and concerns. The best decisions regarding your diet need to come from the best-informed/updated sources--preferably those that base conclusions and theories on studies, tests and the opinions of well-respected experts.

5. Keep a close eye on condiment and seasoning consumption. The fact is that people in developed countries overdo it when comes to condiments and seasonings. This is especially true when it comes to salt and refined sugar. To put it more bluntly: we eat too much salt and refined sugar!

6. Stay away from carb-rich foods, especially if they threaten to burden you with more calories than your body needs. As a general rule, baked goods (e.g., breads, cakes, muffins, cookies, etc.) contain exorbitant amounts of fat and cholesterol. Another thing to keep a close eye on is bleached flour.

7. Greatly increase your consumption of fiber. This substance (naturally found in fruits and vegetables) can help relieve constipation (which can contribute to many medical problems), reduce chances of getting colon cancer, and help your body more efficiently digest foods (thereby improving nutritional absorption).

8. Be exceedingly careful as to how you cook foods. For example, avoid microwaving foods whenever possible. While the jury is still out as to whether microwaved foods pose an immediate danger, there are still too many questions regarding it's long term safety. Also, avoid using Teflon-coated cooking surfaces, as well as painted pots and pans (since some of them may contain lead paints).

9. Avoid uncooked foods whenever possible. When eating out, for example, choose meals that have been cooked, as opposed to things like sandwiches, raw fruits/vegetables and partially-raw meats (especially seafood). Some cultures have traditionally favored raw seafood delicacies but the oceans today are much more heavily polluted than they were in the past.

10. Reject so-called high-technology processed/created foods (until their safety has been definitively proven). These include GMOs (genetically modified organisms), irradiated foods, animals for human consumption injected with hormones and antibiotics, lab-created foods (like sucralose or Splenda), etc. Instead, grow your own fruits and vegetables (when possible) or buy organic products.

By all means, don't give up on New Year's resolutions just because they have not worked well for you in the past. If you take the time to come up with good resolutions, there is no reason why they may not ultimately be beneficial. This is especially true when it comes to dietary New Year's resolutions. If indeed we are what we eat, then we need to make sure that we eat the right things--more importantly, we need to develop the right attitude toward dietary habits.
The first step is to avoid things and practices that have proven to be troublesome for others or about which there are simply too many questions/concerns. After that, it's a matter of sticking to initiatives and endeavors more likely to do us good than harm.

Copyright, 2014. Fred Fletcher. All rights reserved.

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