Happy 2016! Have you decided on your new year’s resolution yet? One of the most popular resolutions chosen by Americans is to lose weight by going on a diet. Many people associate restriction with diets and will begin ways of eating that are simply too hard to maintain long term. Instead of restricting yourself in 2016, focus your year around improving your overall wellness. Making small lifestyle improvements and simply choosing healthy meal options on a daily basis can improve your current health significantly. Implement these easy to follow tips into your routine and make this year your best one yet.

Slow down and taste your food. Do you tend to wait too long between meals, or find yourself rushing through your plate without having actually enjoyed it? Maybe it’s because you are distracted by emails or you’re always eating on the go and busy. Try being more mindful of your eating- that means slowing down and actually savoring the foods we’re eating. When we slow down, we can enjoy our food and we don’t tend to overeat because we are aware of every bite.

Adjust your taste for sweets. The average American gets 355 extra calories a day from added sugars which are often hidden in our foods and beverages. This added sugar could lead to many potential health problems. Even artificial sweeteners are starting to get a bad reputation among the research community. Be mindful of the hidden sugars in your foods and try to reduce the need for something “sweet.”

Don’t be afraid of healthy fats. For optimal heart health, choose more often a mono- or polyunsaturated oils and try to include omega 3 fatty acids from fish and plant sources. While the debate goes on about saturated fat from various sources, most experts believe that no amount of trans fats are not good for the heart. And, some preliminary research suggests that it may be bad for the brain as well, particularly with memory. Trans fats are found in many baked goods, chips, canned cake frosting and fried foods.

Optimize fruits and vegetables! This one is a no brainer, but did you know that you should pay attention to the color of your fruit and vegetable choices? The darker the color pigments the more phytonutrients and vitamins that our bodies need. Make sure each day includes a variety of colors from red-purple such as berries and beets, to red such as tomatoes and watermelon, to orange-yellow such as carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, cantaloupe, peaches and oranges, to green such as spinach, kale, and broccoli. Don’t forget white too…such as onions, mushrooms and garlic.

Reduce stress and enjoy life. Too much stress in our lives can create chronic inflammation within our bodies leading to many potential diseases. A chronic lack of sleep can impact our immune system. One great way to reduce stress and help improve sleep is to be physically active. Get out there and move every day and you’ll be surprised how much better you feel.

Make 2016 a year to remember by following these tips and improving your overall wellness. At Destin Commons, many restaurant offer healthy options that will allow you to still enjoy the convenience of dining out without all the guilt. Pictured above are just some of the delectable dishes offered at Chipotle, Zoe’s Kitchen, and Panera Bread and all are less than 500 calories! Follow your meal with a walk around the property and you are sure to get healthy in no time. So don’t deprive yourself this year by going on a diet, instead make a resolution to improve your lifestyle habits- we promise you won’t be disappointed.

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