Okay, so you may be feeling like all the chocolates, sweets, New Year’s Eve’s second piece of apple pie wasn’t absolutely necessary, and you didn’t mean to polish off that box of holiday chocolates by yourself. But you did. Accept it, embrace it and move on. There’s no room for guilt and shame in healthy eating. We are all entitled to enjoy the holidays in the way we choose to. But if you find that overindulgence is your daily habit rather than a festive splurge, it’s probably time to make some lifestyle changes to support your health in the year ahead (and for a lifetime).

Here are four positive ways to get on track, and three things to avoid:

  1. Do eat whole, fresh food. Canadians get 47 percent of daily calories from ultra-processed foods, which is associated with poor health outcomes, including an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. So, instead of ultra-processed candy, soda, subs, pizza, cookies and fries, make daily meals and snacks with whole, fresh foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts, chicken and fish.
  2. Do choose more vegetables. Yep. You’ve heard it before and we’ll keep saying it again, because it’s the one tenet that remains true. Most of us don’t get enough veggies, but we should. They reduce disease risk, help manage weight, keep our bathroom habits regular, and add colour and flavour to meals.
  3. Do more activity: Whether you take a walk, go skating, hit the slopes or play a game of shinny at the local rink, exercise goes hand-in-hand with healthy eating. Aim for 30 minutes most days, or a total of at least 150 minutes per week. You already get more exercise than that? Great!
  4. Do enjoy balance: Eating well is about nutritious fuel for your body, but it’s also about nourishing your soul. If a glass of wine with friends or a piece of birthday cake at a celebration is part of your life, embrace it and enjoy it. Deprivation is not necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

What you don’t need to do:

  1. Don’t punish yourself: You’re human. You don’t need to be extremely rigid in your food or fitness habits in order to be healthy. In fact, overdoing it is considered to be a medical condition called orthorexia – a preoccupation and obsession with healthy eating. If you eat well 80 percent of the time, there’s still room to indulge 20 percent of the time – with no shame, guilt or punishment. Just enjoy!
  2. Don’t start a fad diet: Researchers agree on one thing: the best diet is one you can stick to in the long term because it is filled with healthy foods that you enjoy eating. Fad diets are restrictive and often cut out many foods (often foods you love). That’s not sustainable, nor enjoyable. It will not last long, and you’ll be back where you started. Instead of embracing a fad, focus on lifelong healthy habits.
  3. Don’t try to detox: There is no supplement, drink, food, herb or spice that will ‘flush your system of toxins.’ Every time you sweat, breathe, pee or poop, your body is naturally eliminating waste using your lungs, skin, kidney and liver. That’s all you ever need to do to adequately ‘detox,’ so don’t waste your money on hoaxes.


Are you planning to make any lifestyle changes this year?

Cara Rosenbloom

Author Cara Rosenbloom

Registered Dietitian Cara Rosenbloom is the president of Words to Eat By, a Toronto-based nutrition communications company specializing in writing, recipe development and nutrition education. Read her blog and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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