Establishing healthy eating habits and improving exercise routines often top the list of New Year’s resolutions — and perhaps even more so during a pandemic. Virginia Tech expert Brenda Davey, professor and certified nutritionist (RDN) in the Division of Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise, offers the following lifestyle tips for improving well-being.
Cook food at home. Eating a diet rich in ultra-processed foods for two weeks increased calorie intake by about 500 kilocalories per day, according to a study at the National Institutes of Health. This resulted in a 2 pound weight gain. In contrast, eating a diet that did not contain highly processed foods led to a weight loss of about 2 pounds. Other studies have linked ultra-processed food consumption to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“With so many of us spending more time at home, the interest in home cooking has increased. The New Year is a great time to increase your culinary skills, try new recipes, and avoid using commercial prepared foods as much as possible,” says Davey.
Read food labels It can help consumers identify foods as ‘ultra-processed’. If a product’s ingredient list contains items not typically used in home cooking, such as high fructose corn syrup or an emulsifier polysorbate 80, it is considered a highly processed food.
Stay hydrated. Switch from drinks that contain calories to those that contain few or no calories, such as water, to stay hydrated and aid weight management efforts. Recent trends suggest that added sugar intake may be on the decline, at least among some segments of the population, Davey says. Some of this may be due to our consumption of fewer sugary drinks, and the growing popularity of flavored waters and sodas.
Try to have at least 9-13 cups of zero-calorie fluids per day. For middle-aged and older adults interested in losing weight, drinking two glasses of water before a meal may help manage hunger and reduce calorie intake,” Davey says.
Aerobic and strength exercises. Regular physical activity such as daily walking is critical For long-term weight control, Davey says. The benefits extend far beyond body weight – to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Aiming to get at least 30 minutes of walking a day is a great New Year’s resolution for 2021.” Strength training, also called resistance training, helps us maintain our muscle mass and maintain physical performance as we age. The Physical Activity Guidelines recommend Current strength training twice a week.
It was Brenda Davy
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