How to have a happy New Year

2010-01-07 00:00

I TRUST you had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed all the New Year celebrations. For those who lingered a little longer at the desserts table and indulged in a few extra glasses of wine, today can herald a new beginning. It’s interesting to note, though, that fervent resolutions and promises to oneself always seem to have the same starting date — tomorrow. Does tomorrow ever come?

As the years tick by, our bodies naturally lose a degree of strength and muscle mass. This results in us burning up less fuel and therefore storing the leftover fuel as fat. So the bad news is that without making any adjustments to our lifestyles, each New Year’s Eve will see us heavier than the one before. The good news is that we can do something about this phenomenon. Either we need to eat less with each passing year or — the more beneficial option — we need to exercise more to protect our muscles from the inevitable shrinking.

As we embark on a new year, let’s set some plans in motion now that will reap rewards before another year is lost. Take up that sport you’ve always dreamed of playing, and plan regular outdoor activities with your family. What about a walk through a nature reserve or a bike ride around the neighbourhood? Perhaps join a soccer or cricket team, or for something a little more creative and unconventional, how about joining a dance class? Water activities are great for those who suffer with joint pain and struggle to even walk around the block. Try swimming or a water aerobics class.

In addition to being more active, let’s make 2010 the year of improving our health. We can do that if we put into practice what we learnt last year — here are a few highlights:

Improve the health of your heart by changing the types of fats you consistently consume. Aim to include foods daily that contain “good” fats, for example, adding avocado, walnuts, pecans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds to salads. Reduce the amount of red meat you eat and opt for lean chicken, hake, and tuna more often during the week.

Reduce your children’s risk of obesity. How your child eats under the age of six years has a great impact on his or her future brain and bone development, as well as the development of diabetes and heart disease later in life. Keep lunchboxes healthy and interesting by including yoghurts, pecan nuts or almonds and an array of crispy crunchy vegetables.

Don’t forget the water. Headaches, lethargy and constipation are common results of inadequate water intake. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to the water for a zesty change, instead of overusing cordials. If you live from one cup of coffee to the next, try to exchange alternate cups with rooibos or herbal teas. This reduces your caffeine intake and improves hydration. For hot summer days, freeze bottles of water and keep one with you even when driving in the car. Add a few mint leaves and a slice of lemon to transform a plain old glass of water into a refreshing drink.

Keep your immune system robust by eating lots of fruit and vegetables daily. Always add a serving of vegetables to lunch and supper, and aim for two to three fresh fruits daily. Berries are particularly good for strengthening your body’s immunity so enjoy a cold strawberry juice, and add a handful of berries to your cereal in the morning.

As we face the clean slate of 2010, let’s exchange the old bad habits for those that will yield our healthiest year yet. I wish you all a happy New Year and much success in joining your new sports teams.


• Sharon Hultzer is a consulting dietitian. She can be reached at

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