To say you’ve overindulged in the last month or so is an understatement. From the sugar cookie bake-a-thon in the office and mom’s decadent pies to a bottle or three with friends, the holidays have taken their toll. But now, it’s time to hit the reset button.
Kristy Del Coro, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Rouge Tomate, the Michelin-starred healthy and environmentally conscious fine dining restaurant in NYC, shows us how to start the new year right.
Eat Breakfast “Eating a healthy breakfast sets the tone for the entire day. If you start your day off with a cinnamon roll or piece of leftover apple pie (not uncommon in my household during the holidays), you’ll be craving sweets for the rest of the day and still not be satisfied.
And don’t think that skipping breakfast altogether is any better. Most studies show skipping breakfast to “save your calories” actually does just the opposite, causing most people to consume more calories later in the day.
The best bet? Start with something that has lean protein, complex carbohydrates and some healthy fat to give you energy and keep you satisfied until your next meal. Some good go-to combinations are whole grain toast with all-natural nut butter (peanut, almond, walnut), steel-cut oatmeal topped with berries and unsalted nuts, low-fat Greek plain yogurt with fresh fruit, or if you have a little extra time in the morning, an omelet made with one egg and two or three egg whites, easy-to-cook veggies like spinach, mushrooms or onions, fresh herbs and a touch of grated Parmesan cheese; serve with fresh fruit, some whole grain toast or a small whole wheat tortilla.”
Get Up and Get Out “Typically during the holidays, people’s exercise routines fall by the wayside. One of the first things you can do for your health is to move more. Small changes like getting off the subway a stop early, taking the stairs at work or carving out 10 minutes on your lunch break to go for a walk really make a difference. Increasing your level of activity, no matter what your starting point, is an ideal way to set yourself in motion for a great new year ahead.”
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! “Part of celebrating during the holidays means lots of fun cocktails, sparkling wine, spiked cider, mulled wine — you name it! But unfortunately all of this celebrating can take a toll. The first step in pressing “reset” on Jan. 1 is to rehydrate. This means taking a hiatus from sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages, and loading up on caffeine-free, sugar-free fluids. Any variation of water will do — seltzer, mineral or tap. To keep a little excitement in your beverage, I suggest adding some slices of fresh citrus (grapefruit, orange, lemon or lime) or even fresh mint for natural sweetness.”
Curb Your Sweet Tooth “For most people, the holidays are about celebrating with food and drink — and lots of it. It just so happens that most of the goodies (think eggnog, stuffing, biscuits, pies) are laden with refined sugar and simple carbohydrates which not only add calories but can also make you feel bloated and even hungrier than usual.
One of your priorities in starting fresh is to swap out those nutrient-poor simple carbohydrates with nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes. If you’ve really developed a sweet tooth (craving sweets after practically every meal), you may need to go cold turkey for a little bit to help you get on track. Before you know it, the cravings will subside and you can go back to enjoying sweet treats every once in a while as part of a balanced diet.”
Set Yourself Up for Success “To ensure success, it is a good idea to plan ahead. Think of at least one new positive step you can take per week that you know you can achieve. Whether it’s starting off your new year by focusing on exercise, curbing your sweet tooth or eating more balanced meals, it may pay off more in the long run to just start with one instead of trying to achieve everything at once.
Whatever you choose, create an environment conducive to achieving that goal. This may mean signing up for a fun exercise class at the gym with a friend, getting rid of any tempting sweets in the house, or stocking your fridge full of colorful fruits and vegetables that inspire you to cook healthy delicious meals at home. For many people, selecting one area to focus on at a time is less overwhelming and often more realistic.”