Welcome, 2021!

Most people that I have talked to were happy to close the books on 2020. It was a year we will not soon forget, but, for many of us, for all the wrong reasons.

This is the time of year in which dietitians typically give "New Year, New You" tips and advice for better living. There is something about turning the calendar over to a new year that presents a fresh start, an opportunity to start with a clean slate and replace some unhealthy habits with better ones. But something about that feels odd this year. Maybe it's the constant state of health alert we've all been under for so many months. Perhaps we're getting tired of the rules and warnings and necessary limitations we've endured for our own health, and the health of our communities. Something about this January may not feel like an auspicious time to launch a major personal health initiative.

So, don't! It's OK if this January passes without a resolution to drop 10 pounds, cut back on sugar consumption, exercise another three hours a week, or call your friends more often. Many of us are still in a hunker-down-and-get-by mode, feeling the lasting effects of ten months of isolation and disruption. The good news is, as we enter a new year this January, we can find hope knowing that vaccinations against Covid will soon be available to the general population.

Instead of starting this new year with overly-optimistic and far-reaching goals for your health, try thinking of entering 2021 in a more modest fashion. Here are some simple, easy-to-incorporate steps to try. Let us know if you have others to share. Happy New Year from Good Food Nutrition Group! And may 2021 be a year of health and peace for us all.

- As soon as you wake up each morning, drink a glass of water. This helps combat overnight dehydration.

- Instead of thinking of adding more fruits and vegetables to your day, think of adding them to your week. Eat two apples or pears this week. Add a side-salad to one meal. Buy a small bag of baby cut carrots and aim to finish it before the week is out.

- Anytime that you are outside this week - even walking to or from your car - stay outside for an additional five minutes. Use that time to stretch, run in place, or just walk 50 yards and back.

- If you've gotten into the habit of ordering a lot of take-out meals during the pandemic, at the expense of home cooking, think of the financial and health benefits of cutting back. Review last month's credit card statement and see how much you've spent on restaurants and delivery. Budget for three-fourths or even half of that amount this month and see how you do.

- Favorite winter meals are some of the best comfort foods! Try one new soup this month, one new bean dish, one new chili, slow-cooker or casserole recipe. Oh, and one new homemade cookie recipe, too.

- Vitamin C as contained in citrus fruits is a preventative against the harsh effects of winter colds; research shows that diets high in Vitamin C lessen the duration and symptoms of colds. (1) Add a glass of orange or grapefruit juice to your daily beverage intake. If you don't care for the taste of the juice, use it to make a smoothie.

(1) Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016 May-Jun; 10(3): 181–183.

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