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  • Apr 15, 2021

The 3 Best Eating Habits To Start This Year

It's the time of year when millions of people start laying plans to make the coming year a little healthier, to change their habits so they have a little more muscle and a little less fat.

For those so inclined, there's no shortage of talking heads ready to have you gulping down charcoal-laced smoothies and spiralizing every zucchini in sight—all guaranteed to whip your physique into shape.

These trends all have their strong points, but you're better off focusing on sustainable and research-backed eating practices. Kick-start a year of awesome eating with these easy-to-implement strategies—no vanilla bone broth cleanses required—and set yourself up for long-lasting success!

1. Reel In Your Protein
On average, Americans eat only about half the amount of fish the American Heart Association recommends, and as many as 99 percent may not get enough omega-3 fatty acids in our diets.

Omega-3s have been linked to improvements in everything from heart to bone to brain health. A study in The Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that people with a more omega-3s in their tissue experienced less muscle pain after a bout of resistance training.

After entering muscle cells, these mega-healthy fats may work to lessen the damage inflicted by heaving around the iron. If you're not a big fish fan, get up close and personal with fish oil. You'll get the same nutrients without the taste.

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2. Seek Out Plant Protein
A substantial amount of research shows it's a good idea to set a New Year's resolution to get more protein from plants and less from animals. After adjusting for lifestyle and dietary risk factors, a major study involving 131,342 participants found that for every 3-percent increase in plant protein the participants worked into their diets, they saw their risk for death from causes including heart disease drop by 10 percent over a 32-year period.

If that isn't proof enough for you, consider this: Consuming 375-500 grams of fruit, vegetables, and legumes each day (a medium apple is about 180 grams) was found to lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease in a wide range of populations. I'm just saying, an apple a day…

When you include more plant-based foods like beans, leafy greens, nuts, and tofu in your diet, you also get more fiber, vitamins, minerals, good-for-you fats, and antioxidants—all of which have significant immune-supporting and fat-fighting powers. But, wait, there's more: When you get more of your protein from plants, you tend to consume a greater diversity of foods, which can translate into better overall nutrition.

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3. Put Your Mind To It
At the risk of getting too zen on you, I'd like to suggest you practice the skill of mindful eating in the new year. Busy as we are, we tend to inhale food with little thought to what we're eating. This can lead to eating too much food without realizing it, as well as to poor digestion.

Studies show that people who act as if they're in a speed-eating contest tend to consume more calories, experience greater hunger after a meal, and are more likely to have extra pounds to work off.

Mindful eating, on the other hand, can not only make food taste better, but can give you time to take note of hunger cues so you're less likely to eat beyond satiety. Taking the time to appreciate each bite can reduce destructive food behaviors such as emotional and stress-related eating, which can lead to poor food choices and weight gain.

Credit: Matthew Kadey

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