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20 changes for more health and less of everything else

Posted: Jan 8, 2013


20 changes for more health and less of everything else

Today's guest post is from fellow dietitian, Vanessa Perrone. Vanessa's website and blog: is definitely worth bookmarking in your browser and visiting often as it's goal is to “motivate you to eat well, love food and find your motive for better nutrition” through “tips, news and fresh, Italian-inspired recipes”. I've been following her site for some time now and it's a great resource for healthy living information.

You can also follow Vanessa on Twitter @VanPerrone


In my holiday newsletter this year, I shared the following, as my 2013 “mantra”:

Cook More, Order Less

Sweat More, Sit Less

Eat Real More, Eat Junk less

Smile More, Stress Less

Among the holiday wishes (tx!) and feedback I received, I did get a few comments from people wondering what changes they could make if they wanted to get the ball rolling this year, in each of these areas. So with that in mind, I put together a of changes for each focus area, that can serve as a starting point for you in the new year.

To Cook More, Order Less

1. Make a list of 5 recipes for crazy weeknights that you can prepare quickly & confidently.  These are simple recipes that you can put together at the last minute should you be short on time. This is especially important on those hectic weeknights when nothing is prepared and you feel tempted to order in. Once you’ve chosen your top 5, always have your pantry stocked to have the necessary ingredients on hand.

2. Keep a shopping list.  A well-stocked pantry, fridge and freezer are essential to get you cooking more.

3. Prep ahead. Washing your salad, steaming your vegetables or cooking a batch of quinoa over the weekend are examples of prep work that can save you loads of time and effort in the kitchen.

4.Bring your own lunch. Oh I haven’t forgotten about this one. Back to school season may be a few months behind us, but packing your own lunch remains one of the simplest and most efficient ways to order less. 

5. Have fun in the kitchen. You might need to feel confident before you can have fun, in which case you should treat yourself to a cooking class or new cook book. If you’re already confident, having fun might mean experimenting with new equipment, ingredients or new cuisines. Do whatever it takes for you to have more fun in the kitchen, as it will keep you cooking more.

To Sweat More, Sit Less

6. Always keep you exercise gear with you. Because stopping by the house might make-or-break that training session.

7. Park farther away. At work, at the mall or at the movie theatre. Bonus: This also relieves the anxiety associated with circling endlessly around a parking lot for a “good spot”.

8. Work your way to 150 minutes of activity per week. To achieve this number, break it up whichever way works best for you, doing the exercise you enjoy most: 5 x 30 minutes or 3 x 50 minutes.

9. Move more in your daily activities. Take the stairs, practice yoga poses during commercial breaks, take phone calls standing up rather than sitting down, tidy-up at home, take walking breaks at the office, really scrub those dishes. Every little bit counts.

10. Treat training sessions like medical appointments; don’t skip them. Schedule it and you’re more likely to stick to it.

To Eat Real More, Eat Junk Less

11. Read the ingredient list first. Most processed foods contain ingredients that deceivingly ameliorate the nutritional facts panel. For instance, adding isolated fiber to a product can certainly boost those numbers but more often than not, it distracts us from the whopping amount of sugar it also contains. But by reading the ingredient list first, it becomes easier to judge the quality of your product. Look for lists that are short, easy to understand and exempt of partially hydrogenated oils, refined carbohydrates, refined or artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors.

12. Make friends with fruits & veggies.   Enjoy vegetables in salad, soups, raw or cooked and work your way up to half your plate of produce at each meal.

13. Break away from conventional. Whenever possible, seek out organic, local and seasonal produce  as well as pasture-raised meat and sustainable seafood.

14. Keep whole food snacks on you at all times.  Having a container of raw unsalted nuts, fresh or dried fruit or popcorn will avoid the purchase of snack foods or vending machine runs.

15. Make water your beverage of choice. 

To Smile More, Stress Less

16. Smile. That’s right, simply working those facial muscles may produce the same effect on your mood as experiencing the emotion itself. Try it at your computer, in the car or even at the grocery store (just maybe not standing in line behind someone at the grocery store…).

17. Disconnect and do something you love, every single day. Read a book, paint or play your favourite album.

18. Give yoga a try or find consistency in your practice.

19. Write down 5 things you’re thankful for. A little gratitude and some perspective can go a long way.

20. Don’t worry so much …”I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened .” – Mark Twain

Will you be focusing on any of these changes this year? Which areas (cooking, activity, stress, food quality) do you give the most and least attention to?