As the New Year approaches, we’re reminded of another opportunity to renew ourselves and make lifestyle changes that matter. It’s important to remember that it’s never too late to make healthy choices – whether you’re 45 or 75. I’m always counseling my patients and their families about taking back the power and responsibility for the quality of their lives.

Did you know that the United States has the highest rates of people being overweight, with a third of the population being obese?

Obesity can be linked to other conditions like cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory disease, sexual dysfunction, cognitive function, and depression.

While it may sound cliché, New Year’s resolutions can be more valuable when you practice what you preach. Talk show segments, office conversations in the break room, or family banter during the holidays is one thing, but really focusing on another new year of life with the ones we love can be enough motivation to make a change.

Dining Out

If you prefer eating at restaurants, pay attention to portion sizes. Consider skipping the complimentary bread and order a salad instead. Perhaps try a side order of vegetables for the table and plan on taking half of your meal home. Order a glass of water instead of soft drinks or alcohol. Don’t fall into restaurant traps that have you eating more than is necessary.

Healthy Snacking

Whether it’s salty or sweet foods that tempt your taste buds, stock up on healthy alternatives to use at home or on the go. Smoothies and protein shakes are so readily available these days it’s very simple to make them at home. Fill your freezer with packaged frozen fruits or smoothie blends and use a small, easy-to-clean blender to make it quick and easy. If your weakness is salty snacks, healthy nuts can be found in portable snack packs or party size containers. Lastly, fresh vegetables can actually be filling – keep sliced celery, carrot sticks, grape tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumber in your vegetable bin.

Fast Food Pitfalls

Don’t let them fool you. Most fast food restaurants are focused on efficiency. Nowadays, most restaurants are required to post the caloric content on the menu. If your schedule (or stomach) finds you using the drive-through, try making small changes. It may take time to phase out your go-to favorites. Don’t feel bad about starting small. Every healthy choice leads to more healthy choices, and from there, it becomes a new normal.

I invite you to read my book “The Power of 5: The Ultimate Formula for Longevity & Remaining Youthful” and let me know how it’s impacted you in 2017.

To a long and healthy life (and a Happy New Year),
David Bernstein, MD

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