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Resolve to make healthy choices in 2014

Resolve to make healthy choices in 2014
Is it just me, or have you noticed that as soon the ball drops in Times Square to usher in the New Year, weight-loss commercials flood our TV screens.

During the holiday season, I’ve been bombarded with press releases from “experts” selling their diet books or plans. It seems like the low-fat and no-carb diets are so last year, as people have realized the diets are hard to stick with. Nowadays, the newest diet trends are clean eating, where you avoid all processed foods, and juicing.

If you haven’t heard of juicing yet, you will soon. It’s the latest craze on the East and West Coasts, where juice bars are popping up as quickly as frozen yogurt shops have here in the Midwest.

People who “juice” buy a pricy supply of fresh-pressed juice (or buy an expensive at-home juicing machine) and then consume nothing but juice for three to seven days, supposedly to “cleanse” the body and promote rapid weight loss.

Admittedly, the harsh truth is that a lot of us are carrying a few more pounds than we should. Iowa is ranked as the 12th most obese state in the nation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. About two-thirds of Iowa’s population is considered obese.

And being overweight puts us at greater risk for chronic health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, that are not only costly to treat, but reduce our overall quality of life.

Yet that doesn’t mean going to extremes, like consuming an all-juice diet, is a lasting solution.

A few years back, I met a wellness coach who helped several Farm Bureau members in northeast Iowa lose weight and get healthy. I still remember her no-nonsense advice.

She told me, straight up, that losing weight – and keeping the weight off – isn’t easy. It isn’t about one-month or one-week diet plans; it’s about making healthier choices every day.

One of her clients lost more than 15 pounds by making simple changes in her lifestyle, such as ordering the grilled chicken sandwich and a side salad in the drive-thru; drinking more water instead of soda; and reserving just 10 minutes of her day, if that’s all the time she had, to walking on the treadmill.

So instead of trendy diets, stick with commonsense advice. Try to fit more activity in your day, and follow the MyPlate guidelines recommended by dieticians. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, plus one serving of lean protein, one serving of whole grains and low-fat milk or dairy.

Let’s all resolve to take better care of ourselves in 2014, if only so we can stay healthy for our family and loved ones.

By Teresa Bjork. Teresa is senior features writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.