The holidays are a time for us to eat, drink and be merry. Surrounded by great food and an abundance of sweets, many of us find it hard to resist the temptation of "just one more bite," followed by another bite and perhaps another one after that. Having overindulged in foods that are high in sugar and unhealthy fats for much of December, we promise ourselves to eat a healthier diet in the coming year.
Eating healthy is definitely a critical component to a losing weight, lowering cholesterol and reducing our risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and a myriad of other adverse medical conditions. For those who maintain healthy eating habits, food is more than just the fuel that gets us through the day. It is also the pathway to feeling good and to staying focused and energized, or relaxed and calm.
In our book Positively Smarter: Science and Strategies for Increasing Happiness, Achievement, and Well-Being. we explain that healthy eating is important for fueling the Body-Brain System.
Here are recommendations for how to eat well in 2016:
- If you want to be sharp, smart, and energized, research suggests that you should start your meal with protein such as fish, meat, or nuts. The body can properly process about 5 or 6 ounces of protein at one time. Use the palm of your hand as a guide for a proper serving size of protein.
- Eat four or five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Eat a colorful array of foods—such as broccoli, spinach, yams, carrots, avocado, berries, mango, red peppers and strawberries—to maximize your health benefits.
- Instead of breads and other food made with refined flour, eat food with whole grains. These are better at regulating the rates at which glucose enters the bloodstream.
- Eat foods that are high in vitamins and minerals. Iron and calcium are especially important nutrients for adolescents.
- Make sure to avoid what's bad for you. Items on that last should include: sugary drinks and candy and meals that are high in carbohydrates. They may provide a brief burst of energy, but after the energy comes a "sugar crash" that causes your body to feel tired. Also, avoid saturated fats, such as those found in whole milk, cheese, red meat, and chocolate. Instead add more monounsaturated fats to your diet, such as those found in olive oil and many nuts.