Eye on Extension: Start out the new year with health in mind

VALLEY — Six is the number of pounds the average American gains between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Between family dinners, parties with friends and co-workers, cookie exchanges and New Year celebrations, the year-end holidays have a way of expanding our waistlines. Here are some tips to help you get rid of the post-holiday bulge.

Eat breakfast. You’ll have more energy to get through the morning and won’t be as likely to nibble on snacks before lunch. Breakfast doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should include some protein and fiber. Protein stays in your system longer because it takes longer to digest. Carbohydrates are digested very quickly leaving you hungry again.  Protein will keep you going till lunch time. Eggs are no longer the “bad guy” as they were portrayed for many years. It was found that dietary cholesterol does not increase blood cholesterol. So go ahead and have eggs for breakfast. If you’re not an egg eater try other type of protein such as some leftover meat from the night before.

Take a daily walk. It’s a great way to start the day and get your body moving.

Or walk for 15 – 20 minutes during your lunch hour. Your first couple of tries might be a loop around the parking lot and back, but you may find the fresh air lures you for longer the next time! Taking a brisk walk can also help make you more alert and cut down on any stress you’ve dealt with (or will deal with). It will help you feel belter and motivate you to add more minutes to the walk. Exercise is always good for us. As you increase the amount of time walked each day you’ll burn more calories.

Drink plenty of water. Even though it’s cold outside and you don’t feel that thirsty, you still need six to eight glasses of water and other fluids each day. Water is the best choice for keeping hydrated. Substitute water for high sugar drinks. If you don’t care for water try flavoring with a fresh fruit or vegetable. Fill a pitcher with water, add a sliced orange, lemon, lime, sliced cucumber, mint leaves, etc. This will add flavor to the water and is surprisingly refreshing. Keep a pitcher filled at home and at work.

Plan outings that include activity. Take the dog for a walk. Take the family for a walk.  Organize a family football game. You’ll have fun and burn calories.

Reduce junk food intake. No one said you can’t have the occasional bowl of ice cream or piece of cake, but having them every day might start to add up. Try fruit and veggie snacks. Replace junk food with carrot and celery sticks; add peanut butter for an extra treat. Dip apple slices in nut butter and enjoy! Fruits and veggies are chock full of fiber, vitamins and minerals, which makes them a great snack choice.

Add more vegetables to your meals.  Try half a plate of vegetables on your lunch and dinner plates. Cut down on carbohydrates – breads, grains and cereals. As stated above veggies are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fiber is what keeps our digestions running smoothly. Fiber is also filling, keeping us from feeling hungry until the next meal. Add salads, green vegetables, red, yellow and orange vegetables to your daily meals. Try roasting, baking, sautéing, and raw vegetables.

Get enough sleep. Studies are finding that most people are not getting enough sleep. A minimum of eight hours per night is recommended. A lack of sleep has been linked to a greater risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

For more information contact Mary Ellen Fleming at 852-7381, or visit the CSU Extension Office for the San Luis Valley Area at 1899 E. Hwy 160 in Monte Vista.  Please feel free to visit our website at:  http://sanluisvalley.colostate.edu for information about services provided.

Extension programs are available to all without discrimination,  Colorado State University Extension, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colorado Counties cooperating.