2020 was a stressful year for us all. Living a healthy life can be especially difficult during a pandemic. For your 2021 resolutions, try to incorporate these habits from SilverSneakers into your eating. Focusing on eating well, not necessarily dieting, can be key to relieving stress and regaining some control over your life.
Start with Breakfast
Make your first meal of the day a wholesome breakfast to give your body the fuel it needs to power through the day. This can also help lower the chances you snack on something unhealthy midmorning when the day is in full swing. Try something easy like eggs, oatmeal or high-fiber whole grain cereal.
Fry Calories, Not Food
Start your day with movement. You could go for a walk, stretch or do some yoga. Even talking to a friend on the phone (while moving) will work. When paired with a healthy breakfast, this will ensure you start the day off right.
Just figuring out what to eat for the day can be stressful. Eliminate that stress with meal planning. Write down what you plan to eat for each meal for the next several days in advance. You can then follow this outline on autopilot without having to worry about making a decision.
Edit Your Shopping List
What you do not buy at the store can be just as important as what you do buy. If you know certain foods or snacks will cause you to overeat, keep them out of the house. If you cannot go without that special treat, hide them out of sight in a cabinet or in the back of a pantry. This small inconvenience can make a big difference.
Know When to Treat Yourself
Just because you are eating healthier does not mean restaurant food is off-limits. Giving yourself a break once a week or so can help you stick to an overall healthier lifestyle! If you go out to eat, you can always try to order a healthier meal than what you would typically order or maybe try a new place that features a healthier menu. Broth-based soups or simple lean, grilled protein with vegetables are always a great choice.
Tea is a popular choice for stress relief. In one study, people who drank tea had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol when under stress than those who drank a different beverage. Try chamomile or holy basil tea – both are caffeine-free and will help your body and mind relax.
Chronic stress can hinder your body’s ability to regulate inflammatory response. Inflammation can lead to many health issues like heart disease and arthritis. Luckily, certain foods like turmeric and ginger can help combat this. You can add dried turmeric to scrambled eggs, rice, roasted vegetables or soups. Ginger is good in smoothies, stir-fries or steeped in water to make a tea. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale will also help.
Focus on Complex Carbs
Carbs can help boost serotonin which reduces stress, but not all carbs are created equal. Complex, whole-food carbs like beans, brown rice and starchy vegetables (like sweet potatoes or butternut squash) will help a lot more than refined carbs like white bread, sugary cereal and cookies. In addition to the serotonin boost, complex carbs carry more nutrition and fiber which can also help curb inflammation.
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