Photo: Fireworks Display

by Tracy Ternes

As the New Year inspires many of us to move toward a healthier lifestyle, small but powerful changes are key to creating consistency and achieving success in our goals. Below are a few simple suggestions, any or all of which can be included in your plan for a healthier life in 2012.

  • Add more fresh fruits and vegetables, including raw varieties, to your meals. Try adding green beans or broccoli the next time you make pasta. Add apple and banana slices to your morning oatmeal, or include a few leafy greens in a morning smoothie.
  • Eat more plant proteins in place of meat and animal proteins. Plant proteins have been shown to help lower the risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancers, as opposed to animal proteins that have been shown to increase the risk for all such diseases. In fact, the USDA now recommends 75% of your plate be plant-based. Replace animal protein with beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, whole grains, seitan (seasoned-gluten), seeds and nuts.
  • Choose whole grain bread, pasta and flour over white. Substitute brown rice for white rice, and experiment with other whole grains such as millet and quinoa. Quinoa, an ancient grain native to South America is actually not a grain at all but a seed, related to spinach. Quinoa is gluten-free and has been dubbed a superfood due to its rich nutritional benefits which include a high protein content (quinoa is a complete protein), as well as substantial amounts of lysine, manganese, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus.1 A 2009 study from the University of Chile made the following statement about quinoa: “It has remarkable nutritional properties; not only from its protein content (15%) but also from its great amino acid balance. It is an important source of minerals and vitamins, and has also been found to contain compounds like polyphenols, phytosterols, and flavonoids with possible nutraceutical benefits.”2 As if the nutritional benefits were not enough, quinoa is also very simple to prepare and has a delicious but subtle flavor that can be used in a variety of dishes, from savories to sweets.
  • Toss your candy bars, jerky and other junk food. Those should be “occasional” foods rather than every day snacks. Commit to keeping them out of your home - if it’s not there, you won’t be tempted to eat it. Replace junk foods with nuts, dried fruit and other healthy snacks. Keep a stash of healthy snacks on hand for when you need a quick energy boost.
  • Drink more water in place of sugary beverages. Even “diet” or “sugar free” sodas and beverages take a toll on your health. For a healthier alternative to soda, mix fruit juice, sparkling water and honey in a glass with ice. Drinking plenty of water is critical in achieving your health goals as every system of the body requires water in order to properly function. Mild dehydration can drain your energy while more severe dehydration prevents your body from flushing toxins and carrying out normal functions.3
  • Exercise regularly with whatever physical activities you enjoy. Surfing, body boarding, volleyball, swimming, walks on the beach and hiking are not only fun, they’re a great way to increase stamina, lose weight and get fresh air. Make it a time to reconnect with friends and family by planning group outings - or create time for solitude by exercising on your own.

Our Healthy New Year 2012 Program will offer free nutrition seminars January 14th and 19th (see events section for details) in addition to these in-store cooking demonstrations every Thursday in January:

  • January 5: Plant-based Proteins: Honolulu and Kapolei
  • January 10: Whole Grains: Kailua
  • January 12: Smoothie demo: Honolulu, Kapolei, and Maui
  • January 19: Whole Grains: Honolulu and Kapolei
  • January 26: Raw Foods: Honolulu and Kapolei
Footnotes: 
  1. "Quinoa." 2007. Worlds Healthiest Foods. 11 12 2010
  2. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.): composition, chemistry, nutritional, and functional properties. Abugoch James LE. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2009;58:1-31. Review. PMID: 19878856 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
  3. Mayo Clinic Authors. "Nutrition and healthy eating." 12 10 2011. Mayo Clinic. 11 12 2011