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Published on January 13, 2017

These five things will help you improve your health in 2017These five things will help you improve your health in 2017

After indulging in the nearly back-to-back food heavy holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah, a lot of people find their clothes a bit tight at the end of the year. That means that losing weight can be high on the list of New Year’s resolutions.

But making a broad resolution to lose weight isn’t the best path to success, according to Courtney Shea, clinical nutrition manager at Cape Cod Healthcare.

“The success rate is going to be better if people pick specific things to work on,” she said. “Setting smaller specific goals can make a difference in health and energy, which can lead to weight loss or just healthier living in general.”

It’s not just counting calories, she said. Replacing foods that are not nutritionally sound with healthier options is key.

If someone comes to Shea or other dieticians at Cape Cod Healthcare with a desire to lose weight, they focus on making healthy lifestyle changes, like exercising as well as diet.

Shea and Falmouth Hospital dietician Mallory Doolan, compiled a list of their five top strategies for healthier eating. Here is what they advise:

  • Avoid or eliminate the “white stuff.”

Cutting out refined carbohydrates is one way to avoid excess calories. Refined and processed carbohydrates provide empty calories with little nutrition.  Focus on whole grains to ensure adequate fiber, vitamins and energy.

  • Rethink your drink.

Choose water, seltzer or other low-calorie beverages instead of soda and juices. Soda provides calories but offers no nutrition. Juice, has some nutritious value but lacks the fiber found in fruit to help your body digest. If you do drink juice, make sure it is 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices in four ounce servings.

  • Fuel up with fiber.

Fiber aids in digestion, helps with weight maintenance, and helps you feel full after a meal. You can find fiber in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

  • Focus on Five a Day.

Try to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Try including a fruit at breakfast in your cereal, snacking on veggies, choosing salad as one meal, or eating a piece of fruit for dessert. Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants important for your health.

  • Stay Sustainable.

Support your local farmers and fisherman. Plan to join a CSA or shop at the local fish markets. Not only is it important to support your community, it is also important to make positive purchases to promote sustainability. Plus, fresh foods are at their peak nutritional value.