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Five ways to have a healthier new year

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Keep it simple and make small goals.

It’s that time of year again when we make and try to keep resolutions to eat better and exercise more. But, often, we are overwhelmed and call it quits by mid-January.

This year, try something different. Instead of resolutions, implement achievable lifestyle changes designed to last a lifetime.

For many busy families, that may mean breaking large goals into small steps that can be built upon throughout the year. Use the following as a guide to get your family working toward a healthier 2017.

1. Jumpstart your day

Eat breakfast every day! Breakfast doesn’t have to be elaborate but there are better options than starting the day with cereal or a pastry high in added sugars. Get a good jumpstart on your nutrients with oatmeal paired with an 8-ounce glass of Florida Orange Juice, which is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of potassium, folate, and thiamin – nutrients that we need on a daily basis.

2. Make nutrient-rich food swaps

Make nutrient-rich food swaps and look for ways to get more fruits and vegetables. Luckily, this doesn’t require an entire meal planning overhaul. Just change up your usual family dinner menu by swapping one or two ingredients. For instance, replace beef tacos with fish tacos using grilled salmon and avocado, or fill your taco shells with a variety of grilled vegetables. Up the ante of your salad by replacing iceberg lettuce with dark green leafy spinach or kale, then choose toppings in a variety of colors to obtain a spectrum of nutrients, like red peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, carrots, and roasted sunflower seeds, as well as fresh or dried fruit like fresh orange segments or dried cherries.

3. Keep hydrated

Keep yourself hydrated, but do it in a healthier way. Instead of beverages with added sugars, opt instead for water, low-fat or fat-free milk, and 100 percent juices. Can’t crush your soda addiction? Set small goals and aim to replace one cup at a time with healthier beverage options.

4. Talk to your doctor

Don’t forget that we are still in the thick of cold and flu season. If you haven’t already, talk with your doctor about getting the flu shot (it’s never too late!) and be sure to wash your hands frequently.

5. Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods

Focus on eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish. If this seems daunting, focus on improving one area of your diet one step at a time. For example, maybe your family could use more fruit: an 8-ounce glass of Florida Orange Juice, tastes great and counts toward your fruit intake. Check out ChooseMyPlate.gov for more ideas. Remember to watch your portion sizes.

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About Gail Rampersaud, MS, RDN, LDN

Ms. Rampersaud has a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from the University of Florida. She is a registered dietitian nutritionist and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (national) and Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (state affiliate). She develops nutrition education materials for the Florida Department of Citrus, the University of Florida and community. Her interests include the health benefits of citrus, the health benefits of the vitamin folate, nutrient density, children’s health and nutrition issues, and the health benefits of breakfast.