Tips for Improving Your Health in the New Year If your New Year’s resolutions include making better food choices and improving your overall well-being, Inspira Health Network is providing tips and strategies to help you achieve those goals. Recognizing that resolutions can be notoriously challenging to keep, it’s helpful to begin with small, easy-to- make changes that can increase the chances of being successful all year long. Bradee Rojas, MS, RD, outpatient dietitian at Inspira Medical Center Woodbury, shared the suggestions she offers patients. “One of the first things I recommend is incorporating as many vegetables into your diet as possible,” Rojas said. “I suggest the ‘plate method,’ which means half of your plate should be full of vegetables.” Another colorful and easy-to-remember concept Rojas advocates is the “eat the rainbow” strategy. By that she means don’t just stick to green vegetables and red fruits. “Get a variety of color because that’s how you’ll get different nutrients and antioxidants,” said Rojas. “Plus, it’s makes for a very attractive plate.” Slow Down and Enjoy A newer concept that Rojas is introducing to patients is mindfulness. “Try to be more in the moment when you’re eating,” she said. “Find a quiet, comfortable spot to have your meals. Put down your phone, turn off the television, and limit distractions. Sometimes you’re so focused on everything else that you don’t even taste your food.” By slowing the pace of the meal, an individual is aware of taste and textures. He or she may also realize that a second helping isn’t needed after all. Rojas noted that it takes 20 to 30 minutes for the stomach to send a signal to the brain that it’s full, so by taking the time to enjoy each bite, you might discover that you’re satisfied with a single serving, which eliminates unnecessary calories. Make Small Sacrifices Setting small goals makes them easier to achieve. It also means you’re more likely to continue with your new habits. For example, Rojas said, if someone buys his or her lunch every day, rather than deciding to cut that out entirely, which can be hard to sustain, the person can start by bringing lunch one day a week. Saying that you’ll never eat lunch out again is unrealistic, and if you can’t stick to it, you may become discouraged. So start small, and feel proud of your accomplishments, Rojas advised. Start with Simple Swaps Making some easy substitutions can add up to a big boost in your health. Rojas offered a few ideas on where to begin: If you find yourself always reaching for a sugary beverage, drink water or an unsweetened fruit juice instead. Try to incorporate more whole grains into your diet by switching from white to wheat bread or pasta, or look for 100 percent whole grain items. Instead of sitting, add more movement into the day. Find an activity you enjoy and fit it into your routine. Be Kind to Yourself If you fail, you’re more likely to give up altogether, said Rojas, so she often advises clients to not feel guilty about a misstep. “If you do go for the cookie, enjoy one and savor the flavor,” she noted. “Don’t feel guilty and give up, just get back on track.” Inspira-Provided Support Recognizing that information and support can be immensely beneficial, Inspira offers a range of options to help those who wish to live healthier lifestyles achieve those goals. The following are informational sessions and groups that address common concerns: Inspira offers Diabetes Self-Management Education classes at its medical centers in Elmer, Vineland and Woodbury. To learn more about monthly diabetes support groups, call (856) 853-2141. Inspira strives to create a safe haven for individuals who are thinking of having sleeve gastrectomy, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or Lap-Band surgery by providing free bariatric sessions, which are offered regularly. Call 800-INSPIRA (800-467-7472) to register. Surgeons will discuss the procedures mentioned above as well as answer patients’ weight loss questions. Please call 800-INSPIRA to make an appointment with an Inspira physician or for an Inspira service.