Christine Patrick, County Extension EFNEP Agent
New Year’s resolutions, coming as they do after the excesses of the holidays, typically have to do with living a smarter, healthier lifestyle. And the most common resolutions focus on foods and eating habits—resolutions such as “lose weight, avoid fast foods, eat more vegetables, drink more water,” and so on.
Since resolving to live a healthier lifestyle is a lot easier than actually putting your resolutions into practice, it’s a good idea to look for help and encouragement wherever you can find it. One place to look is a housewares store, kitchen shop, or chef’s catalog because buying just a few pieces of low-cost kitchen equipment can help you prepare healthier meals. Here are some ideas:
- With non-stick pans you can reduce the amount of oil needed for cooking. Then use a vegetable oil spray rather than bottled oil to reduce calories from fat.
- A steamer insert is an inexpensive piece of equipment that will fit into a cooking pot that you already have on hand. Steaming vegetables helps to retain more nutrients than other methods of cooking vegetables, and fat is not needed. You can have similar results cooking many vegetables in the microwave oven.
- A gravy separator can be used to de-grease gravies and sauces quickly, without waiting for the fat to congeal.
- A well-stocked spice rack and an adventurous spirit will help you cut down on added fat too. Take the time to research or experiment with herbs and spices so you’ll know which ones pair well with which foods. Knowing, for example, that dill enhances fish, that tarragon is great with poultry, and that rosemary is terrific with pork will make the preparation of healthy dishes easier, faster, and more enjoyable.
- A grill—whether it’s the outdoor or indoor (electric) variety—makes fast work of healthy food preparation. Use a fat-free Italian dressing (or other fat-free dressings) to marinate or baste almost any meat or vegetable to be cooked on the grill.
Remember that realistic New Year’s resolutions are easier to keep than lofty goals, and small efforts each day can help to form a beneficial habit quickly. If your resolution is “eat smaller desserts,” you’re smart to realize that cutting down on portion size is much more realistic than depriving yourself of something you enjoy. Also remember that along with healthier food choices, adding or increasing physical activity is an important component of living a healthy lifestyle. Simply walking for 30 minutes, five days a week, will help you trim your physique and provide some weight-bearing exercise that bones need.
Adding just a few more steps of walking, several times a day is another easy way to fit physical activity into a busy schedule. When you go to the store, park at the back of the parking lot rather than the front. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk rather than drive if the distance is reasonable and the weather is nice. Fresh air and sunlight are additional benefits of walking that help us to feel healthier. Finally, remember that implementing just one small, relatively painless resolution per month can result in a year-long commitment to big changes in your health and well-being.
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