What’s your New Year’s resolution?
At the start of each year many of us focus on New Year’s resolutions. Improving our health and wellness by losing weight, eating better and exercising top the list of resolutions for many people.
A healthy diet
Eating a variety of nutritious foods each day is important. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends a diet that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods.
Vegetables and fruits – Vegetables and fruits are full of nutrients that help in promoting good health. Select vegetables and fruits of various colors and varieties. Choose red, orange, and dark green vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli with meals.
Also select a variety of fruits and vegetables as snacks such as apples, pears, berries and carrots.
Grains – When selecting bread, rice or pasta, try to select whole grains. Whole grains provide more nutrients than refined grains. Examples of whole grains include oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat pasta. At least half of the grains you consume on a daily basis should be whole grains.
Protein – Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds are considered part of the protein group. Select lean cuts of meat or low-fat meat and poultry.
Dairy – Milk, cheese and yogurt are included in the dairy group. Select fat-free (skim) or low-fat (one percent) milk, cheese and yogurt.
Oils, sugar, salt – Limiting you intake of fats, oils, sugar and salt is also important when it comes to a healthy diet. Fats, oils and sugar add calories and provide little nutritional value. Too much sodium can increase blood pressure.
At the restaurant or truck stop
Being an informed diner is half the battle when it comes to being a health diner. Many restaurants and fast food chains are starting to post calories on their menus. Also, many post nutritional information on their websites. If you are able to access this information, check it out before ordering. If this isn’t a possibility, look for key words such as grilled, whole grain and low fat to help you make informed mealtime decisions.
For breakfast, choose items such as oatmeal, whole grain cereals and fresh fruit.
When it comes to lunch and dinner, look for terms such as grilled, steamed or broiled when selecting meat, whole grain when selecting breads, buns and pasta, and low-fat when choosing dairy products.
When at the salad bar, select vegetables and fruits and use dressing sparingly. Avoid prepared salads such as potato or pasta salads as they often contain dressings or sauces that are high in fat.
Another issue to consider is your beverage of choice. Sodas and sweetened coffees are full of sugars and calories. Low fat milk, unsweetened tea and fruit and vegetable juices without added sugars are better choices.
Regular physical activity is important to overall health and fitness. Being physically active can help you:
• Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight (when combined with proper diet),
• Feel better about yourself,
• Sleep well, and
• Strengthen your muscles and bones.
Types of physical activity that are especially beneficial include:
• Aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming),
• Muscle-stretching activities (push-ups, lifting weights), and
• Balance and stretching activities (gentle stretching, yoga, martial arts).
So how much physical activity is necessary? The USDA recommends that adults do at least two and half hours of moderate physical activity a week. Moderate physical activities include brisk walking, bicycling and golf (when walking and carrying clubs).
It is also recommended that strengthening activities such as push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights be done at least twice each week.
Notice that before starting any exercise program, you should consult with your health care provider.
Have an exercise “game plan”
Like maintaining a healthy diet, getting in meaningful physical activity can be a challenge for the professional driver. Having a “game plan” can help in addressing this challenge.
The “game plan” may include a 30 minute walk during a stop or it may include stopping at a truck stop or hotel that has exercise equipment.
The “game plan” could also include carrying exercise equipment such as hand weights or a bicycle or doing simple stretching exercises.
Nutrition on the road
For the professional driver, being on the road presents its own set of challenges when it comes to a healthy diet. Planning ahead can go a long way in improving your eating habits.
There are lots of healthy choices that you can purchase from the grocery store before leaving on a trip that you can carry in a small cooler on your vehicle.
These choices include fresh fruits and cut-up vegetables. Ready to eat cereals and unsalted nuts are other healthy foods that you can take on the road.