Tips to eat healthier for your 2018 resolutions

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If eating cookies, cakes and candy were your number one activity for the holidays, then you're likely still feeling the effects of a holiday food hangover. As a result, you're probably bloated, feeling lethargic and constantly craving sweets. Or you may actually be craving a salad. Either way, here are some tips on how to get on and stay on track with your healthy eating resolutions.

(1) Don't skip any meals and don't cut out any food groups. Skipping meals, like breakfast, depletes energy, causes overeating later and it slows down your metabolism. Try to eat every two to three hours, and if that's not possible, try not to let more than five hours go by without eating. You can do this by keeping healthy snacks on hand.

(2) Drink more water. Cut back on sodas and other sweetened drinks like iced-tea. A big bottle of juice can contain 300 calories, and eventually those calories add up. If you aren't a fan of plain water, you can squeeze some lemon into it for taste, or you can try infusing your water with fresh fruit slices.

(3) Eat more whole foods. Start to gradually cut out processed foods, which includes almost anything that comes packaged. Stick to fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and if you're not vegan, animal foods like eggs, meat, fish and poultry. A good trick for this is to shop outside the grocery aisles because that's where you'll find all the fresh and healthy foods.

(4) Incorporate more prebiotics and probiotics into your diet. Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food components that are linked to promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut. Great examples of priobiotics are bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, and whole-wheat breads. Probiotics are active cultures that help change or repopulate intestinal bacteria to balance gut flora. Eating probiotics may also boost immunity and improve overall gastrointestinal health. Some sources include yogurts, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and tempeh.

(5) Avoid mindless eating. Eat when you feel hungry and stop before you feel full. Don't eat while distracted, which means don't eat while watching television, while on the phone, or on the computer. This kind of eating usually leads to increased calorie consumption, and being in touch with your body's cues will help you take control of your eating and your waistline.

(6) Get more sleep. When you are sleep deprived, your body produces less leptin and more ghrelin. Both leptin and ghrelin play a huge role in energy balance and appetite. Leptin suppresses food intake while ghrelin increases your appetite, so if you're not getting proper sleep, your hormones will be out of balance, causing you to want to eat more.

(7) Stop using artificial sweeteners. Recent studies show that artificial sweeteners are actually linked to weight gain and cancer. Opt for natural sugars like fruits, honey, agave, or stevia.

(8) Keep a food journal. Keeping track of what you eat is a great way to discover the connection between your diet and emotions, and it will help you become more aware of your eating patterns. Keeping one everyday isn't necessary; logging your food intake a few days a week is enough to help you refine your nutrition goals. You can download food tracking apps like MyFitnessPal and My Plate onto your smartphone to help you keep track.

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