Smart Goals for Fall
The start of the school year often sparks new beginnings and new habits. This year, rather than making the same general goal to be healthy or lose weight, why not set some more specific actionable and measurable goals. Something you can monitor and keep track of. Here are my top 5 suggestions.
#1 Always include a fruit or vegetable at each meal and snack.
We can all stand to include more fruits and vegetables in our diet. Women need 7 ½ cup servings per day and men need 8-10.
Benefits: fibre, fluid, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants. Help fight cancer and reduce risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Prevent constipation, maintain a healthy GI tract and immune system.
- Toss some berries on your cereal or French toast at breakfast.
- Have an orange, pear or apple with your snack.
- Aim to include at least one green and one orange vegetable each day.
- Try butternut squash soup for lunch and roast Brussels sprouts for dinner.
Tips for Adding vegetables:
- Try using a grater, mandolin or food processor to cut and shave vegetables into different shapes and sizes.
- Roast root vegetables with olive oil and fresh thyme or rosemary. Use leftovers cold on your lunch salad.
- Sautee a variety of greens with garlic and sesame oil for an easy side
- Julienne zucchini, peppers and carrots and toss with vinaigrette for a different salad base
- Add vegetables to pasta sauces, soups and muffins for extra nutrients and flavour.
- Have cut vegetables with a white bean and garlic puree as a dip
- Make a kale pesto to toss with pasta or whole grains
Tips for adding fruit:
- Chop apples to add to hot cereals
- Make fruit and soaked nut smoothies
- Add pureed fruit to muffins
- Have fruit as a snack or on salads
- Include dried fruit and nuts as a snack
- Add diced mango or orange slices with fresh cilantro or mint to grain based salads
- Bake fruit and berries into fruit crumbles
#2 Eat at least one Vegetarian Dinner each week.
Eating more beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds and tofu is a healthy and inexpensive way to get more protein, fibre and unsaturated fats.
Benefits: Low in saturated fats, cholesterol, high in fibre
A plant-based diet has the potential not only to improve energy, optimize health and rid your body of excess body fat. Evidence shows that eating plant based can lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers. It can improve bone health and protect against Alzheimer’s. Not only does it help our bodies, it helps our environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, water contamination and antibiotic resistance, to name a few. Need I say more?
- Blend chickpeas into pancake or muffin mix
- Add lentils to soup
- Add chickpeas to Greek salad
- 3 bean salad
- Vegetarian chili
- White bean and garlic puree as a spread for toast points
- Hummus as a dip for vegetables
- Sautee cooked navy beans with Swiss chard and rapini
- Add beans to pasta sauce
- Use chickpeas instead of chicken in a curry
- Toss lentils into tomato sauce for spaghetti
- add tofu as the protein in stir fry
#3 Eat Fish 2-3 times per week.
Fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fats which we tend to not get enough of in our diet. Omega-3 fats help reduce inflammation, reduce platelet aggregation and may help reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack, depression and Alzheimer’s.
- Make fish tacos with mango salsa for dinner
- add fish to salad or eat it in a wrap
- Add canned salmon mixed with capers and purple onion to your sandwich instead of ham
- Limit high mercury fish such as fresh or frozen tuna (light flake tinned tuna is lower in mercury), swordfish and shark.
#4 Experiment with whole grains.
In hopes of reducing weight some people choose to cut out grain products and when they do have them they tend to be the unhealthy refined ones. Rather than cutting them out all-together, why not emphasize the whole grains and include them daily as a source of fibre, magnesium, energy, B vitamins, iron and phytochemicals.
Brown rice, rye, barley, quinoa, whole wheat, millet, amaranth, oats, spelt, kamut and faro are all nutritious choices and ½ cup cooked is a serving.
Research shows that people who eat more whole grains have lower risks of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Grains such as barley, rye, oats and oat bran are excellent sources of soluble fibre which helps lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar and increase satiety. All grains contain resistant starch which provides a fuel to good bacteria in the gut.
Some grains to check out:
- Amaranth is very high in protein, calcium and iron and is a good source of fibre. It is delicious as a cooked cereal for breakfast and can also be sprouted, toasted or ground into flour. Cooking the grain takes 20-25 minutes with a 3:1 water to grain ratio.
- Barley is a good source of selenium and fibre, in particular soluble fibre. Hulled barley is the whole grain version and pearl or pot barley is the refined version. Barley is great in soups and cold in salads. Barley takes 60-90 minutes with a 3:1 water to grain ratio.
- Kamut is an ancient wheat. It has a lower gluten content that modern day wheat but it is not gluten free. Kamut is used to make pasta and breakfast cereals.
- Millet is a tiny yellow grain that is delicious as a side dish. It is also used in cereals and bread. Teff is a type of millet. Millet only takes 25 minutes to cook with a 2.5:1 water to grain ratio.
Tip for Cooking Grains: Be sure to rinse all grains (except oats) before cooking.
- Eat a bowl of oatmeal for Breakfast
- Make a pot of vegetable barley soup for lunch
- Have a Greek salad with quinoa for lunch
- Use brown rice instead of white for stir fry
#5 Reduce sugar sweetened beverages and replace them with more water, sparkling water, herbal tea, or milk/soymilk
Sugar sweetened beverages contain lots of calories without much nutrition. Replacing them with milk, fortified soy or almond beverages can help reduce sugar intake and provide you with a source of calcium and vitamin D. Having water and a fruit rather than fruit juice provides you with fewer calories and a source of fibre to help fill you up.
- take a water bottle with you in the car
- have a glass of milk with breakfast or dinner
- drink sparkling water or herbal tea in the afternoon to stay hydrated
- Replace a coffee with tea
- drop the pop and add pellegrino
Set your SMART Goals Today:
Today I will: _______________________________________________________________________
This week I will: ____________________________________________________________________
For the Month of October I will:_______________________________________________________
I will measure my success by:__________________________________________________________