For many people, January marks the beginning of all things new and improved. Individuals set goals of all types: personal, family, career, and health. There is a renewed interest in all things health and nutrition related, especially after the busyness and stress that can be associated with the end of the year. When setting goals for the New Year, the staff at Texins believes in setting behavior goals (instead of outcome goals). Setting behavior based goals means setting goals that focus on behaviors you can control (instead of outcomes that are not always in your direct control). For example, a behavior goal would be “I will engage in purposeful movement 30 minutes each day”, while an outcome goal would be “I will lose 10 pounds”. Behavior-based goals give you an opportunity to check in with yourself daily or weekly and provide a quantifiable way to measure progress. Either you did get in movement or you did not; whereas your weight can fluctuate due to factors that may be outside of your control like hormones, digestion, and metabolism.
One of my favorite nutrition, behavior-based goals is adding or trying new foods. Add a new vegetable every week or try a different ethnic cuisine. Remember, healthy doesn’t mean just chicken, broccoli, and rice – all types of cuisines can be healthy and help provide variety! Each year brings new food trends and this year is no different. I challenge you to try one of forecasted food trends for 2019.
1. Seed butters: Almond butter and other nut butters (think cashew butter, walnut butter, or nut butter blends) were on the rise this year. But, with concerns of food allergies and food intolerances, not everyone can enjoy them (or they may not be allowed due to school’s “nut-free” zones). Seeds are also full of healthy fats, but can also offer a different nutrient profile than nuts do. You can currently find sunflower seed butter in most grocery stores, but be on the lookout for pumpkin seed and watermelon seed butter.
2. Ugly food: There was a big push last year to reduce food waste. When we waste food, we’re wasting more than just that food. We’re wasting the water, labor, and other resources required to produce the food as well as the gas and fuel used the transport the food. One of the biggest components of food waste is “ugly food”. Grocers buy food that will sell, and foods that are “ugly” (i.e. too small, uneven, misshaped) do not sell as well. Produce farmers try to sell these ugly foods to animal farmers for animal feed, but whatever is leftover is thrown away. One company in particular is looking to change that. Imperfect Produce works with local farmers by buying their leftover ugly foods and delivering them to local customers. Currently, they only deliver to cities on the west coast, the Midwest and to two cities in Texas (Austin & San Antonio). But, you can help save the food by buying “ugly produce” at farmers markets or in your local grocery store.
3. No-added sugar vs. anti-sugar: There has been a big push back on sugar the last few years. But, it’s important to differentiate between naturally-occurring sugars (sugar in fruit or milk) and sugar that has been added to foods. Naturally-occurring sugars are packaged with things like fiber, vitamins and minerals that help provide a steady source of energy to our body. But, when we over-eat foods that have added-sugar, we are risk of developing health problems such as obesity, diabetes, liver disease. Eliminating all foods with added-sugars is not necessary (and would be VERY difficult); instead focus on being more aware of how much sugar is added to your foods and choice your foods accordingly. For example, choose a granola bar with 2-3 grams of added sugar but 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber over ketchup or a pasta sauce that has added sugar.
4. Trust your gut (health): People are more aware of how foods affect their digestive system. A poorly functioning digestive system can lead to bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort and eventually lead to other health concerns. Focusing on foods that support a healthy digestive system is important to keep you feeling and moving well. Check back next month as we take a deeper dive into gut health.