New Year's Resolution Made Easy
By Dennis Linden
While Eat More Produce promotions are packed with vitamins, minerals and good intentions, they lack practicality in the busy culture we all contend with each day.
The custom of making a New Year resolution in January can be traced to the Roman Empire. This month gets its name from the two-faced Roman god, Janus, who was always depicted with one face looking backward into the old year and the other looking forward into the new one. It was a Roman tradition to make a promise to Janus each year of a generically moral nature; usually nothing more specific than just being good to others. I guess the Romans wanted to keep their options open when it came to wine consumption or cutting down on orgies. However, when the Romans adopted Christianity during the fourth century, New Year’s Eve revelry and resolutions began to take on more of a religious tone that included lots of prayer, fasting and promises to be a better person spiritually.
Today this annual tradition of resolving to turn over a new leaf continues, though most of that new foliage focuses on diets that will reduce waistlines. While there is nothing in the history books to support this, we also probably follow in the footsteps of the Romans with another tradition—completely abandoning those self-imposed culinary disciplines by early February. In fact, a 2007 study conducted at the University of Bristol in the UK, involving 3,000 participants, found that eighty-eight percent of those who set a New Year’s resolution fail. Interestingly, men did achieve their goal 22% more often when they set small, measurable goals such as, losing a pound a week, rather than simply resolving to “lose weight” generally. Women succeeded 10 percent more when they made their goals known to others and received support from family or friends.
In recent years, to promote health, the produce industry first launched a campaign that espoused the consumption of at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. That amount was eventually upped to eight servings, before the current guideline of “2½ to 6½ cups per day, depending upon one’s caloric intake”. These are all great formulas for the few who have time to measure, track and, frankly, eat such a copious amount of fresh produce on a daily basis! C’mon, admit it, we’ve all thought the same thing—it’s a whole lot of fresh produce to be eating no matter how good it is for you. While Eat More Produce promotions are packed with vitamins, minerals and good intentions, they lack practicality in the busy culture we all contend with each day. It may be what we should do, but we don’t and—let’s all face it--probably won’t. Most of us really do not have the willpower to stick to such a wonderfully healthy diet for long. Sooner than later, we will reward ourselves for being so healthy with just one bite of something we know is so good because it’s so bad…and the slippery caloric slope begins to slide us right into back-to-the-fat February.
So, since men respond best to small achievable goals and women want the world to know theirs, here’s a practical way to increase one’s fresh produce consumption, maintain a healthier diet and shrink those waist lines with a more realistic plan. Below are two lists of some of the most common fruits (A) and vegetables (B) available, along with a brief profile recounting how each contributes to good health. Cut and paste these lists into a document, print it and tape it to your refrigerator – the bigger the better, especially for you ladies so all can see. Now...EAT ONE ITEM FROM COLUMN “A” AND ONE FROM COLUMN “B” EACH DAY. Admittedly, I am not a dietitian – just a regular person living in a very busy world -- but this diet is really doable. We all open that refrigerator at least few times a day; the lists will serve as a constant reminder to grab an apple rather than an apple cobbler or a carrot instead of a piece of cake. Surely, even those of us with absolutely no willpower (and we know who we are) can manage a TWO-A-DAY diet? Besides, who wants to start the year ticking off Janus with empty promises!
Vegetables contain dozens of important nutrients and have loads of dietary fiber. They have been proven to help build your body's immunity to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Eat at least ONE of these disease-fighting veggies every day:
Whether you prefer red, orange or yellow, bell peppers are packed with dozens of heart-healthy nutrients like lycopene and folic acid. Recent research suggests that bell peppers help to lower the risk of developing lung, colon, bladder and pancreatic cancers.
Few foods measure up to the disease-fighting potential of broccoli. This cruciferous veg is packed with antioxidants that help reduce the risk of stomach, lung and rectal cancers.
These little green “cabbages” are especially important for pregnant woman because they're packed with folic acid, a B-vitamin that prevents neural tube defects and other congenital anomalies.
The richest vegetable source of some important antioxidants, like vitamin A, as well as loaded with eye, skin and hair-enriching nutrients. Also rich in vitamin C, carrots protect the cardiovascular system from damage.
Eggplant is rich in an antioxidant called nasunin, a unique compound that protects your brain cells from damage. Loaded with fiber and potassium, researchers believe eggplant may reduce the risk of stroke and dementia.
These pungent smelling veggies are particularly good for people suffering from osteoporosis. Onions are loaded with a peptide called GPCS which scientists believe slows your body's loss of calcium. Onions may also be useful in the fight against heart disease and diabetes, as they are also high in vitamin C and folate.
This chlorophyll-packed leafy green is an excellent source of almost every vitamin and nutrient the body needs daily. Scientists believe a diet heavy in spinach may be able to prevent everything from heart disease to colon cancer, and arthritis to osteoporosis. A true super food.
A good source of anti-inflammatory nutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotene, squash, especially summer squash, can help treat dozens of conditions including asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Squash is also rich in potassium, magnesium and fiber.
This root vegetable has dozens of anti-cancer nutrients like vitamin A, C and manganese and an excellent source of iron. The tuber can also help regulate the digestive system.
Easy to digest, fresh fruits are loaded with phytochemicals that effectively combat numerous diseases ranging from heart ailments to diabetes. Eat one fruit a day for better health, weight control and as an instant source of energy.
Eating apples affects the brain, heart, energy levels, bowels, and eyesight. Apples can help keep teeth naturally clean and white, if consumed every day.
Avocados are the best cancer-combating of all fresh fruits. Research has shown that regular avocado consumption especially helps prevent against oral, prostate and colon cancers. Avocados are very high in vitamin E and also facilitate nutrient assimilation into the cells.
Bananas are known to boost our energy levels and increase concentration. The fruit also generates tryptophan which is a mood elevator that helps minimize stress. Bananas are also a great source of phosphorus and vitamins.
Blueberries are highly regarded for their high concentration of antioxidants which helps to neutralize the harmful byproducts of metabolism called "free radicals" that can lead to cancer and aging diseases.
Grapes can help combat asthma, cataracts, macular degeneration (loss of eyesight), and prevent constipation. Apart from being a rich source of energy and fiber, grapes are also known as natural cure for migraines.
The fiber in kiwis can regulate bowel movement and relieve cardiovascular disorders. Kiwis are rich sources of vitamin C and promote lung health. In one British study, kiwis consumed on a regular basis were found to deter the common cold.
Loaded with vitamin C and fiber, oranges are rich in antioxidants and low in fats. Oranges help keep the body’s pH levels stabilized for prolonged time periods.
Papayas help maintain a healthy digestive tract and can even soothe an upset stomach. Regular consumption of this fruit improves blood circulation, which helps to prevent heart attacks Extremely high in vitamin C.
Full of lycopene, which is known for its cancer-fighting capabilities. Also high in vitamins A to K, tomatoes help the body maintain an even blood pressure.
Nature’s best thirst quenchers, watermelons are known for their instant energy and vitamin B complex enriched juicy fruit. Melons are low calorie foods great for combating cardio diseases and preventing colon cancer.