A choice is very personal.  Choice can represent personality, heritage, geography, and knowledge, and more!  Making healthy choices can make an impact on morale, health and lifestyle. As the New Year begins to make its way through our lives, focusing on making healthier choices can ensure positive results by the year end.

Some of the ways to improve our food choices are outlined on the www.ChooseMyPlate.gov website.  There are tips, techniques and a free activity tracker.  As the USDA has updated the nutritional food information for Americans, the website is a good place to find out more about making healthy choices with today’s food and lifestyle.

One tip in making healthy choices is to determine what you need to make those choices.  You choice could be adjusting how much and what types of food you eat, changing the foods and beverages you drink or increasing physical activity.  Set yourself a goal, include a friend or spouse or co-worker to join you on your goal.  Goals help to keep us on track.  Remember they always change and adjust, so review them often and update them accordingly.

Another tip for making healthy food choices is portion control.  When we choose to enjoy “sometimes foods”, remember to savor the foods that are higher in fat, calories and/or sugar, slow down and enjoy the taste, the smell, the sound and feel of food.  Enjoy the treat of a sometimes food, today seems to dictate rushing through everything.

Making a lifestyle activity choice can also improve our health.  Being more active boosts our energy and stamina.  Consider parking in the farthest spot to increase your walking opportunity.  Encourage your friends and family to join in a fun night of bowling or ice skating.   Adding in physical activity is a healthy choice.

Water is life, be sure to work it into your healthy choices.  Sip water throughout the day and consider keeping a water bottle in your bag or at your desk.  Water is one of the key parts of a healthy food choice.  Try replacing your favorite sugar drink with water infused with fruit or herbs. Try a squeeze of orange and a handful of basil in your water for a cool refreshing way to increase your water consumption. Water will improve digestion, regulate body temperature and helps carry oxygen throughout the body, like our muscles when we exercise.

Approach your choices with a mind set to reach your goal, try writing it down and posting it in a strategic place in the kitchen to help you stay on target.  Stop and think about each choice as you select your groceries, preparing your meals and eating out of the home.  Is half your plate fruit and vegetables?  Did you choose whole grains and low fat dairy products?  How was your walk today, did you meet your step goal? How much did you savor your sometimes food, did you enjoy that treat?

The reward at the end of year will be yours, yet it can affect those around you.  You can be a role model. Your loved one, friends, or neighbors and or co-workers, may see you out walking and want to join you on your healthy choice quest. Especially, when they see how all the healthy dinner menu items have affected their results on the scale.  Share in the success, encourage each other and spread the benefits of making healthy choices.

Amy Weurdig

Nutrition Educator – EFNEP

University of California Cooperative Extension

January 2017