Keep Your New Year's Resolution -- and Have Your Comfort Foods, Too

Comfort foods are often a staple of cold-weather cuisine, warming the soul and invoking memories of winters past. For millions of Americans the winter season also signals a time to adopt healthier nutrition and physical activity as part of a New Year resolution to lose unwanted weight. Can these things co-exist?

The exciting news is that we don't have to sacrifice cherished comfort foods in order to abide by our New Year's resolutions, says Dr. Susan Finn, chair of the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition (ACFN). A few simple steps will help you tailor these traditional favorites to be more healthful so families can continue to enjoy them all year long.

Good nutrition and an active lifestyle is about more than how you look; its about being healthy, which is why the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition is encouraging Americans to regard the New Year as an excellent opportunity to embrace new habits for a lifetime of wellbeing while relishing healthier versions of old favorites.

ACFN offers the following pointers to help Americans continue to enjoy comfort foods and other favorites while seizing the opportunity for better health in the New Year:

New Year's resolutions should be achievable. Reasonable goals are those that are achievable in small steps. It is important to remember that if you set unrealistic objectives, you are far less likely to stay on track. Be committed and be confident in yourself and your ability to abide by your new nutrition and physical activity routine.

Size matters. The best rule of thumb when it comes to portion is to have it, halve it. In other words, share some of the higher-calorie comfort foods or save a portion of your meal for another time. Portion control is one of the best ways to control calories while still enjoying your favorite foods.

Make a few healthy adjustments to traditional recipes. You don't have to sacrifice flavor to be healthy. Comfort foods don't have to be calorie-laden. Hot soups and stews that use broth instead of cream or gravy can taste just as good as the heavier version. Lighten up on ingredients that represent the most concentrated source of calories -- fats. You can do this by substituting the more traditional ingredients with better-for-you products. And remember, fruits and vegetables not only add nutrients to your meals, they pack a healthy dose of flavor, too.

Resolve to be active. Being active shouldn't be something "extra" to add to your day. It should be something you enjoy or that motivates you. Even a brisk walk around the neighborhood is a good way to burn a few calories and come closer to the balance you need.

Above all, seek balance. The key to managing your weight at any time of year is to burn the calories you consume. Its easier than you think. You can cut 100 calories by just skipping that pat of butter on your biscuit or substituting a lower-fat version of your favorite ingredient like sour cream. And most people can burn 50 calories with a brisk 10-minute walk. Even decorating or cleaning the house can help you expend calories!

Remember if you make some healthy adjustments, you do not have to sacrifice your favorite foods. Seize the New Year as an opportunity to start anew and shed unhealthy habits -- and pounds -- in 2005, says Dr. Finn.

Courtesy of ARA Content


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