Nourish to Flourish this New Year
The New Year is here, yet again. Along with it comes motivation to set new goals, try new things, and better yourself in ways that you haven’t before. However, to find success with new habits, we need to start with a foundation of self-care.
Many of us have heard the safety procedure on an airplane that says, “Put on your own mask first, before you help others.” This is a perfect analogy for what it means to practice self-care. Without first taking care of your basic needs, you will not be able to effectively help yourself to reach your goals and help others reach theirs.
One very important and often overlooked aspect of self-care is nutrition. The food that you eat impacts your mood, performance, and daily satisfaction in the workplace and at home. If you want to flourish this New Year, aim to eat nourishing foods and limit foods that may hold you back from feeling your absolute best.
Three Simple Changes for Nutritious Self-Care
Fueling your body with nutrient-dense foods will improve your mood, energy levels, and performance. Many people wake up on New Year’s Day thinking of the foods they “can” and “can’t” eat, but this method is extreme and not realistic. Certain diet strategies can be effective, but sticking to these three general, simple steps can help you to create healthy and balanced meals that make you feel like the best version of you.
1. Limit highly processed, high sugar foods.
Try limiting highly processed, high sugar foods, such as sugar-sweetened beverages and packaged sweets. Hydrate with liquids like water, low-fat milk, or sugar-free beverages. You can also cut down the number of times you eat frozen, shelf-stable, or fast food meals in a week. If you find yourself getting take out 3 or 4 times per week, maybe you can gradually cut back to 1 to 2 times a week and substitute a home-cooked meal instead.
2. Focus on eating mostly whole, plant-based foods.
Focusing on eating mostly whole, plant-based foods can be simple. Start by filling half of your plate with vegetables each meal – fresh or frozen! Round out your plate with protein, whole grains, and healthy fats.
3. Practice mindful eating—find balance and treat yourself.
Consider trying mindful eating at a beginner’s level to see how it feels. Eating mindfully can help us to better recognize our hunger and fullness cues and feel more satisfied after eating. You fuel with the intention to make your body feel and function well, which means eating nutritious foods most of the time and less nutritious but sentimental foods on occasion. You can practice mindful eating by simply putting your fork down in between meals, limiting distractions, and respecting the hard work that brought your meal to your plate.
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