A Birmingham Dietician’s top 10 tips for a healthy new year

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After spending the last two months indulging in the allllll the holiday treats that Birmingham has to offer, we’re feeling like it’s time for a reset. The best advice comes from medical professionals, of course, so we asked an expert.

A local Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN) gave us her best advice for starting 2020 out on a healthy foot. Find her tips right here, as well as how to make them work in Birmingham.

Meet the Expert

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Special thanks to our nutrition expert Leah Gates, M.A., RDN. Leah is the Clinical Nutrition Manager for Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, so it’s easy to see she really knows her stuff.

She shared her top 10 tips for a healthier 2020—keep reading to see what Leah had to say!

1. Build Your Plate Well

The Lobster Cobb Salad at Fancy’s on Fifth is a crowd favorite. Look at alllll that color! Photo via Facebook

Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits. Choose a variety of colors like dark green, red, orange, purple. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and help keep you fuller longer. Don’t forget to include vegetables at breakfast as well.

2. Make Smart Choices when Shopping

Choose lean meats like poultry and seafood as well as beans, lentils, nuts and nut butters and eggs. Purchase low-fat dairy as well: milk, yogurt, cheese.

Look for meats labeled “loin” or “round” to be leaner. Cut away fat and remove skin from chicken or poultry.

3. Focus on Quality Grains

My personal favorite source of whole grains is brown rice. At Ono Poke, you can choose brown rice as the base of your bowl to get those grains in. Photo via Facebook

Aim to make half your grain servings 100% whole grains. These are rich in fiber and provide better nutrients.

4. Consume Heart-Healthy Fats

Heart health is one of the biggest benefits of switching up your diet. Quality fats can help with that!

All fats and oils are high in calories, but don’t let that scare you. Use small amounts of good fats like canola oil, olive oil, margarine, avocadoes and nuts.

Choose oil and vinegar-based marinades and salad dressings to reduce saturated fats in your diet.

5. Reduce Sugar Intake

If you’re craving a sweet treat, this bowl from JuicedUp Essentials is sure to hit the spot without blowing the diet. Photo via Facebook

Trade your sugar-sweetened beverages in for calorie and sugar-free beverages. Sparkling waters and herbal teas are both great options.

To satisfy those sweet tooth cravings, reach for fruits and low-fat yogurts instead of cookies or cakes.

6. Increase the Amount of Water You Drink Daily

A good rule of thumb is to aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Your body depends on water to survive. After all, water makes up about 60% of your body weight.

Your body can confuse dehydration for hunger—sometimes, you may be in need of water more than a meal.

7. Meal Prep

Check out Till on Instagram and Facebook to make your grocery shopping a whole lot easier while supporting Alabama farmers. Photo via Facebook

Make a grocery list before you enter the grocery store to help keep you on track. Planning ahead and knowing what you will prepare for meals helps save time and money.

Pre-slice fruits and vegetables for easy use during the week and portion out your meals in containers for easy access to meals.

8. Practice Mindful Eating

Take time during meals to taste foods. Being mindful while you eat helps you choose better food options, assists in portion control and aids in digestion.

Overall, mindful eating is an important behavior to practice for weight management.

9. Cook More Meals at Home

Whoever said salads were boring had clearly never met this one. Find it at The Blueroot Company. Photo via Facebook

Preparing your own food allows you to know exactly what you are putting in your body without hidden ingredients like additional sugar, sodium and fat.

Of course, sometimes you just can’t avoid eating out. When you’re on the go or want to grab a meal with friends, there are plenty of options in Birmingham that won’t blow your healthy lifestyle.

Greenhouse describes this meal as “the Bert and Ernie of lunch combos” and we have to agree. Photo via Instagram

Some of our favorites? Greenhouse in Homewood, of course. They serve real food with real ingredients to help you fuel up on the go. Blue Root Co. is launching its first storefronts in 2020, just in time for you to take advantage.

10. Change Up Your Cooking Methods

Bake, broil, grill, roast or stew instead of frying foods in fat. Place meats on a rack while cooking so grease will drain off to help reduce calories.

Made Changes Without Results?

In some cases, making improvements to your health may mean more than just subbing a side of fries for a side salad. That’s where Brookwood Baptist Health comes in.

They currently have three locations offering surgical weight loss options, also known as bariatric surgery. Some of their options include the following:

  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
  • Gastric sleeve
  • Gastric band (or lap band)
  • Laparoscopic/robotic gastric bypass
  • Laparoscopic/robotic gastric sleeve

Bariatric surgery is a major decision, and it is not an immediate or quick-fix solution. To learn more about your options, head over to their website to find information about the procedures, locations and process.

For more information about your health, be sure to like Brookwood Baptist Medical Center on Facebook to find more info about becoming a healthier version of you.

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