It's the end of December, which means there's a good chance you are thinking of ways to live healthier in the new year. Whether you want to drop 10 pounds, improve your cholesterol or have more energy, we have five food-related New Year's resolutions that will help you achieve your goals.
No. 1: Mindful eating
Thirst can be mistaken for hunger
Water before a meal can help reduce food calorie intake
No. 2: Cook at home
No. 3: Meatless one day a week
No. 4: More fruits and veggies
No. 5: Water
Being adequately hydrated can help to ward off fatigue, keep hunger at bay and boost metabolism. "It keeps your body running efficiently, allowing it to work smarter, not harder," said Caroline Passerrello, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Consider the calorie savings, too: If you replace every 150-calorie can of soda consumed daily with a glass of water, you save more than 1,000 calories per week, which translates to 15 pounds lost over a year. Drinking a glass of water before a meal can help fill you up and eat fewer food calories.
In the same way you plan meals, you can plan your water intake. This is especially important for older individuals, for whom thirst can be a poor indicator of one's fluid needs. Additionally, since thirst can be mistaken for hunger, planning to drink throughout the day can help you avoid unnecessary snacking.
Carrying a refillable water bottle can serve as a constant reminder to drink more. "I used a water bottle that had a hook on it and hooked my keys on it ... so everywhere I go, I now have a water bottle. It becomes part of your routine," Passerrello said.
If plain water is unappealing, try adding fruit or vegetable slices such as oranges, lemons, strawberries or cucumber to boost flavor. Carbonated water is another option. "There are countless options of flavored sparkling water and seltzer on the store shelves these days. Select ones that are naturally sweetened and have zero calories," Passerrello said.
How to measure it:
Have a daily water goal. Eight glasses per day is an average number (and doesn't include water from foods); your needs may be more or less depending on your activity level and other factors, like pregnancy.
As a simple rule, you might aim for two glasses of water with each meal and one with each snack. You can track your intake in a journal, along with your food. Some journals have pictures of cups that you can simply check off.
The WaterMinder app is another tool that can help you track your water intake. It includes reminders to drink up, along with charts to track your progress.