This article was originally featured in Brigham Health Hub.
Erin Reil, RD, LDN, Senior Clinical Bariatric Dietician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery
Whether your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight or to begin living a healthier life, many of us vow to improve our diets in January. Yet some of us also may be in need of an extra energy boost during the shorter, colder months of winter. Learn how you can improve your health and boost energy levels to make this year your healthiest year yet.
Plan Your Plate
Set aside time at the beginning of each week to plan and prepare meals. This technique will save you time, reduce stress, and make it less likely you’ll resort to unhealthy convenience foods when your schedule gets busy.
Keep meals simple and remember what your plate should look like: half should be filled with non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, carrots, caulflower); one fourth with lean protein (grilled chicken, fish, tofu, or legumes), and one fourth with whole grains (brown rice, barley) or starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes). Using this method will help you create balanced meals that incorporate lean protein and fiber. Both protein and fiber take longer to digest and provide more sustainable energy.
Remember, the balanced plate method applies to breakfast too! Start your day with a protein-rich healthy breakfast, such as Greek yogurt. Avoid energy zappers like refined grains and sugars (think of bagels and cream cheese), and don’t forget to include fruits and whole grains, such as oatmeal or whole wheat bread.
Be Mindful of What You Eat
Pay attention to how and why you are eating throughout the day by keeping a food journal. This strategy may help you be more mindful about what you choose to eat or drink and why. The goal is to teach you to respond to your body’s physical hunger, not external influences such as emotion, stress, or boredom. Recognizing when and why you are eating can ultimately lead to better food choices.
If you find yourself reaching for food when you’re not hungry, try walking around the block, dancing around the house, or drinking a glass of water. Exercise is wonderful for both the mind and body and will help you to feel more energized during the afternoon slump.