5 Simple Healthy Changes You Can Live With During the New Year

— Written By Ann Simmons and last updated by

We have embarked upon a new year and all the hope that comes with it. That hope often involves losing a few pounds or increasing our physical activity. Many of us will move full steam ahead with a new plan that is sure to help us achieve the appearance and health status we desire. However, some of us will detour from our healthy journeys before the first box of Valentine’s Day chocolate is open.

It feels great to set health goals at the beginning of a new year, but often those goals are neither attainable nor realistic. Sometimes our attempts to make healthy choices fail because we may not be ready to make drastic changes. Why not try a new approach this year? Consider making a few small health-improving changes that over time can result in big benefits. The following are five changes that require some effort but won’t leave you feeling that they are impossible to achieve.

Swap sugary drinks for water. The calories in sweet drinks can add up—in fact, it’s easy to consume over 1300 calories each day by drinking sugar. Think about it, that’s 1300 calories without one bite of solid food! According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “People who drink this ‘liquid candy’ do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food and do not compensate by eating less.”

Fill half of your plate with healthy vegetables. Vegetables will you fill up, help you cut calories, and increase the fiber in your diet. Omit the creamy sauces and greasy seasonings and rediscover the natural taste of vegetables.

Swap fruit juice for whole fruits. Rather than grabbing a glass of orange juice or apple juice, grab a whole orange for more fiber and less sugar. School-age children and adults should consume whole fruit rather than fruit juice. Research has shown that people who eat whole fruits rather than drinking fruit juice are at a lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Choose whole grains instead of processed grains. Like vegetables and fruits, whole grains provide beneficial fiber. Fiber from whole grains can help you maintain a healthy weight, have regular bowel movements, and lower your cholesterol. Choose whole grain bread, cereal and pasta. Whole wheat or whole grain should be the first item in the list of ingredients in the grain products you select.

Add walking to your daily routine. Thirty minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week can help you burn calories, and strengthen bones, joints and muscles. Breaking your daily walks into 10 or 15-minute increments provides the same benefits as walking for 30 consecutive minutes.

Starting with two or three of these changes can benefit your overall health. Most of all, they are attainable, realistic and will go a long way in helping you develop a healthy lifestyle.