Thursday, December 27, 2018

By Lana Nelson, DO, FACOS, Director Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Dr. Nelson is a bariatric surgeon at Norman Regional’s Journey Clinic who follows a plant-based diet and loves running and hiking.

The new year is always a great time for a fresh start. Here are a few tips for a healthy 2019:

Set achievable and sustainable goals! If you decide you are going to the gym 5 days a week starting January, then this may be achievable for a few weeks but unlikely to be sustainable.

This is especially true if you have not been doing any regular exercise. Think about how the activity will fit into your schedule, even when life is a little more hectic, and stick with it. You can always make adjustments, doing a little more or less as needed to sustain activity goals without abandoning the plan altogether. Also, if you choose things you enjoy doing, you are more likely to stick to it.

Eat more veggies! It may seem like a simple notion, but we could all benefit from more vegetables in our diet.

Find ways to make it easy. I like to have at least a fist full of veggies at each meal. For example, at breakfast, I will add a large handful of spinach or kale into my smoothie. At lunch, I pick raw veggies that are portable, so they can be eaten on the run. Some of my favorites include baby carrots, snap peas, or broccoli florets. This also avoids any special prep. For dinner, I like steamed or broiled veggies, and will frequently batch cook them on the weekend so they are ready to go. I like bagged veggies for simplicity. A large bag of Brussels sprouts can be steamed in the bag in the microwave and is ready to go. A bag of pre-cut broccoli or kale can be tossed with a tiny bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic, and placed high under the broiler on a pre-heated, foil lined cookie sheet at 500 degrees for 15-20 minutes, turning the veggies half way through for a delicious charred finish. Add some precut mushrooms or onions for some extra flavor and nutrients. Another option is to heat some water in your steamer while you are warming your other foods, and throw some veggies in the steamer for 5-10 minutes then season with some lemon pepper or garlic salt for serving. If you pick out veggies you like, you are more likely to eat them regularly. It is perfectly acceptable to have green beans for dinner every night if that is your favorite veggie.

Plan ahead! Think about what your week looks like in terms of daily commitments. Make a mental note of what days you will get your exercise in, where you will be eating your meals, and any quick prep work you may need to do for the week. If you know you will be dining out, you can always review the menu online prior to visiting the restaurant to pre-pick your items based on nutritional value, and not your current mood. Stick to it by avoiding opening the menu at the restaurant. If you normally hit the gym on certain days, but know this week’s schedule will not accommodate that plan, shift to another day so you don't miss out altogether. If you do miss your goals, plan to restart quickly rather than going days or weeks without considering your plan.