(NEW YORK) — January is a time when many people pledge to go cold turkey and banish their undesirable habits from the years past. The saying old habits die hard carries so much truth. Rather than a full stop, consider easing in to a new routine with sustainability in mind. Creating a strategy where small steps are the focus helps you to see the successes while encouraging you to move forward.Nutrition choices impact both short and long-term health outcomes. Opting for foods in their whole and minimally processed forms with limited added sugars, salts and lab-made fats keep our bodies feeling good and functioning well.Get your gut healthyThe gut is one of the largest immune mediators in the body. The gut digests absorbs, synthesizes and transports, all of these functions impact overall health. Fiber helps to colonize beneficial gut bacteria and aids in digestive health.The current recommendations for women are to have 25 grams of fiber each day and for men to have 38 grams of fiber daily. To meet those recommendations, aim for a minimum of 1 1/2 servings of vegetables at each meal. Swap your grains, go for whole grains in place of refined grains and add legumes to your routine at least once weekly.

Aim for a variety of non-starchy vegetables a minimum of 5 servings a day
Love your leafy greens — the deeper and darker the green the better
Make at least half of all your grains whole and, if you can, 75%
Vary your grains: try black rice, millet and buckwheat groats
Love your fermented foods and probiotic-rich dairy. The gut loves probiotics!
Berries are a great source of good bug-fostering phytonutrients

Keep things flowingWater makes up more than 2/3 of our body weight and is essential for our health. What can water do:

Regulate body temperature (breathing and sweat)
Helps remove waste and toxins from the body
Used in the brain for the formation of neurotransmitters
Helps deliver oxygen throughout the body
Helps deliver nutrition to our cells

The current recommendation is to have between 91 to 125 fluid ounces of water daily. To help meet the body’s needs consuming water, plain sparkling water, herbal tea and hydrating foods — such as lettuce, cucumber and berries — can help.Keep it stableBlood sugar highs and lows are no fun. Limiting variability in your blood sugars throughout the day can be done by consuming well-balanced meals that supply proteins, heart-healthy fats and nutrient-rich carbohydrates.Eggs are a simple and nutritious source of protein. For people who don’t eat eggs, one serving of almonds provides 6 grams of satiating protein.Here are a few more simple ideas:

Balance your meals by aiming to have a combination of non-starchy vegetables, starchy vegetables or legumes with lean proteins
When building your plate aim for 1/2 to 3/4 of your plate as a non-starchy vegetable with 1/4 as lean protein and 1/4 as starchy vegetable, legumes or whole grains
Vary your proteins
Plant-based proteins include almonds, tofu and beans
Aim for 2 servings of seafood each week

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