Getting MORE in 2024: A Healthier You, One Bite at a Time!

LIVE with Kelly and Mark - January 2, 2024 *** Visit for More!
from Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RDN

Replace resolutions with intentions this year. Welcome to 2024, a year filled with fresh starts and healthier habits! Instead of rigid resolutions—which just sound and feel so firm and inflexible—let's embark on a journey of intention-setting instead, focusing on simple strategies grounded in science.


Here are 7 tips to help you form healthy habits and make 2024 your healthiest year yet.


1) Pick One Thing (at a Time) for Lasting Change

Start with a single, manageable goal to build a lasting habit. Whether it's staying hydrated, committing to breakfast, or incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your meals, focusing on one thing—at a time—can significantly improve your diet, waistline, and overall health. Even if you made one change a month, you could accomplish 12 changes in a year. That’s a lot! So instead of attempting a health overhaul, take it one strategy that you can really practice at a time.


Did you know? One recent study of more than 1,000 adults found that adding one avocado daily to their usual, everyday diet for six months (versus not adding the avocado) significantly improved their diet quality, reduced total and LDL cholesterol, all without increasing body fat or body weight, despite the additional calories. That’s the power of adding just one thing—one good habit!



2) More Fiber, Please!

Surprisingly, only 5% of Americans meet the daily fiber recommendation. This is staggering considering the role it plays in gut health/microbiome, cholesterol regulation, blood sugar and satiety, and yes, healthy digestion and bowel movements.


Incorporate excellent and good sources of fiber-rich foods like chia seeds and flaxseeds, nuts, avocado, raspberries, apples, pears, and strawberries, in addition to including other vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and beans.


The daily recommendation is to aim for 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed or on average 25-38 grams per day.


3) More Good Fats – It's a 'Swap-urtunity'!

Research has increasingly shown that SWAPPING IN more unsaturated fats (polys and monos) in place of saturated fats, and not eliminating or reducing fat is beneficial to heart health*. Plus, it provides flavor, helps the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and some are actually essential – like ALA plant omega-3s and even omega-6s (in balance). 


Swap saturated fats for heart-healthy unsaturated fats by opting for oils like chia oil—an excellent source of plant omega-3 in a single teaspoon, avocado oil for its monounsaturated fats, high smoke point and neutral flavor, and embrace olive oil and olives. Add walnuts—the only nut with an excellent source of plant omega-3s—to meals and snacks. Be mindful of processed oils, particularly in packaged foods, and enjoy saturated fats like butter and coconut oil in moderation.


*Dietary fat can be a confusing topic for people (and even health professionals sometimes!), partly because nutrition science and dietary fat recommendations have evolved over time. A landmark study called PREDIMED (Mediterranean diet with 35-45% fats! – mostly good fats) was effective in decreasing adiposity (fat on the body) and improving cardiovascular risk factors in adults with metabolic syndrome, as well as in individuals with or at risk for diabetes. And a couple major review papers have also shown that instead trying to lower fat intake, a shift toward greater PUFA (polyunsaturated, heart-healthy fats/oils) consumption in place of SFA would significantly reduce rates of heart disease.


4) More Fruits and Vegetables, Every Day!

Several prospective cohort (long-term) studies have explored the relationship between plant-predominant diets and/or fruit and vegetable intake and risk of type 2 diabetes and also heart disease.  And there is a long and growing history of the evidence on this topic. This body of evidence supports current recommendations to consume more fruits, vegetables, and plant foods generally for risk reduction of type 2 diabetes and heart health—two chronic diseases that are interrelated for many.



Make it a goal to include a fruit and/or vegetable in every meal, have them in at least one snack, try to enjoy a soup or salad most days, and reach for veggies or fruits if you're craving a post-dinner munch.


In fact, just these 3 tips above and what I call the “3 Fs”—Fruits and veggies, (unsaturated) Fats, and more Fiber—have shown in research to support overall health while also helping to reduce the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes – two of the leading chronic diseases in the U.S.



5) More Plant Proteins for Variety and Flavor

Whatever your preferred eating style—and you may be relieved to know, you don’t have to forgo meat, chicken, fish or dairy, unless you choose to—consider adding more plant proteins to your routine. These can include beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and tofu. And because they are plants, they don’t only have protein but important phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, too! With the impressive amount research on the role of plant-protein sources on promoting overall health, you can explore the variety and flavor they bring to your meals.


In addition, replacing some meat with plant sources has shown some health benefits. For example, a recent large study analyzing a number of independent studies explored the substitution of animal-based foods with plant-based options and found that replacing processed meat with nuts like walnuts, which provide plant protein in addition to fiber, omega-3s and other minerals, lowered the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and death from all causes among other benefits from substituting even some animal meat with plant sources.


Here are amounts of protein from some common plant foods. In general, most adults need on average 60-80 total grams per day. Plant sources can really add up in meals and snacks!


Black Beans (cup) 15 grams

Garbanzos (cup) 15 grams

Lentils (cup) 18 grams

Peas (cup) 8 grams

Edamame (cup) 18 grams

Broccoli (cup) 5 grams

Potato (1 medium) 8 grams

Pistachios (1/4 cup) 6 grams

Pumpkin Seeds (1/4 cup) 7 grams

Walnuts (1/4 cup) 4 grams



6) Hydrate More and Differently

Embrace hydration in all its forms. Drink more water throughout the day, sipping over time instead of gulping down glasses for better hydration overall.


Here are some strategies:

·        When beverages do have calories, try to choose those that also provide some real nutrition such as milk for calcium, vitamin D, and potassium or juice instead of fruits drinks or soda.

·        Think about dilutions. You can dilute juices or other sugary drinks with water to reduce the sugar and calories and still have flavor and hydration. Try a variation on an Arnold Palmer with pear juice and iced tea or add sparkling or flat water to other 100% juices.

·        And remember to be mindful of alcohol. You might try lower alcohol beverages or swaps or even participate in the Dry January trend.

·        Think about reducing the sugar in your coffee beverages – adjusting little by little or try adding some sprinkles of cinnamon as you decrease the sweet.

·        Remember, you can also "eat your water" with hydrating foods like soups, fruits and vegetables, which are 70-97% water.


7) Focus on Satiety, Not Just Fullness

With a little shift in focus, we can start to register when our bodies feel nourished and satisfied—before we feel full or stuffed. You don’t have to chew 29 (or 99!) times, but if you practice a little ‘conscious chewing’ by paying attention to your chews, it may help you slow down a bit and allow your hunger signals that come from your stomach and also chemicals released in the intestines to register with your brain to help you recognize your cues.


You can bring a bit of balance to your plate and also help encourage satiety by:

·        Hydrating with beverages and with soups and salads can help your body feel satisfied.

·        Incorporating a mix of macronutrients on the plate: fiber, protein, healthy fats, all of which  can slow the release of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream and help our carbohydrate energy last. They also provide mouthfeel and pleasure to our eating, which helps toward feeling satisfied versus overeating until we feel overfull.


There is also a Japanese principle of "Hari hachi bu"–of eating until you are 80% full–that you might think about as you seek a bit of mindfulness toward being satisfied.



So let’s look at more in 2024 as a time to celebrate progress over perfection or overhauls. With these simple strategies—and choosing one thing at a time!—you can make those positive health changes one bite, one day, and one week at a time. Have a healthy and happy 2024!



Eat well. Move daily. Be Healthy.®