It’s a new year, and for many, that means new goals. Each year, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions that they forget or fail to keep up by February. At UF Health, we want you to be your healthiest and happiest while understanding what is best for your health. UF Health Family Medicine – Jonesville physician James Medley, M.D., offers six steps to help you keep up with your New Year’s goals and make sure you are your healthiest in 2018.
- Get quality sleep
Sleep is for more than just feeling well-rested throughout the day. Quality sleep for the recommended amount of time can improve your focus, self-control and your immune system. It is recommended that the average adult gets on average seven to nine hours of sleep a night and keeps a consistent sleep schedule throughout weekends and holidays as well.
- Make time for exercise
Not only does exercise keep the heart healthy it helps with fighting anxiety and depression, attention, self-control and can even help you feel more awake during the day. It’s recommended that you spend 150 minutes each week doing moderate-intensity exercises such as brisk walking, swimming and running. It’s important to remember to slowly increase exercise to avoid injury and to speak with a doctor about starting a new exercise program if you have diabetes or a heart condition.
- Mind the beverages
If you’re looking to carry a drink with you throughout the day, it’s best to stick with a bottle of water. Electrolyte beverages, such as Powerade® or Gatorade®, are only necessary if you’re exercising strenuously for long periods of time and sweating profusely. These beverages and drinks such as fruit juice can be considered “healthy” but can really just be fruit-flavored sugar water. If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, try adding less milk, cream and sugar to these drinks and you may find that you’ll grow to like them even more.
- Put down the sugar
We all love the occasional sweet treat, especially during the holidays, but avoiding sugar can really contribute to you living a healthier lifestyle in the new year. Sugar is addictive and the more you eat, the more your body with crave it. Learn to cook with more “sweet” spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and you may realize you’ve been missing out all along.
- Pay attention to what you’re cooking with
It’s no secret that there are hidden sugars, carbohydrates and saturated fats in foods. When cooking, keep in mind that what you put in your food can really make a difference in your health. When a recipe calls for butter, try a healthier substitute such as walnut oil or canola oil. Remember that not all oils are the same when it comes to cooking. Some, like olive oil, break down at lower temperatures and can create unhealthy compounds, but they can also be great for flavoring vegetables or in salad dressings.
- Watch out for fads
Don’t believe everything you see in ads and on TV. Soy everything, gluten-free and a dairy-free diet have been known to be promising for losing weight, but unless you have a medical reason to avoid these foods, it may be hurting your wallet and be unhealthy to you. Organic and “non-GMO” foods have not been shown to provide health benefits over their mainstream counterparts and some may be a trick to charge more for the same item. Instead, focus on buying fresh or frozen foods, which tend to have more nutrients than cooked or canned foods.