Photo via A Taste for Spice.

Healthy habits: 12 tips for eating right for the long run

If you’re like me, you probably lost track of calorie counting somewhere between the holiday honey ham and the homemade pecan pie. I’m not one to turn down a festive dish, but in the harsh light of New Year’s Day, I have come to regret the choices that have led me to asking, “This skirt shrunk, right?” In an attempt to make 2019 the best and healthiest year yet, I reached out to Ochsner’s Eat Fit BR dietitian Vanessa Richard for some practical advice for eating healthy. For added accessibility, Richard’s advice is in an easy-to-follow list, making it an ideal reference for months to come:

1. Better your beverage: I suggest kicking the soda habit by choosing sparkling or fruit and herb-infused water.

2. Get serious about sugar: Choose a plant-based sugar substitute, such as Stevia, instead of table sugar or artificial sweeteners.

3. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate: Keep a refillable water bottle with you. Remind yourself to keep up with your hydration by placing three rubber bands around the bottle and removing a band for each 20 ounces of water you consume.

[caption id="attachment_61343" align="alignnone" width="1019"] 1. The Keeping Room/ 2. Wanderlust by Abby/ 3. Rodéo Boutique/ 4. Anthropologie[/caption]

4. Do you love carbs? I suggest trying slow carbs instead of no carbs. Choose sweet potato, winter squash, beans, brown rice, or grain-free pasta (like chickpea or red lentil pasta).

5. Pack in the veggies: Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables at least once per day. Mix it up by alternating salad greens, steamed or roasted vegetables and spiralized vegetables.

6. Don't let lunch be your downfall: Plan to pack your lunch at least three days a week. Try packing a bento box-style lunch for an easy way to keep it balanced. I suggest grocery shopping specifically for lunches and then keeping the ingredients ready to assemble at the office.

7. Eat mindfully: Sit down to eat without distractions. We eat more when we are trying to multitask.

8. Get enough sleep: Your natural hunger cues are affected by not getting enough rest. In addition, stress hormones are released when you are sleep-deprived, making weight loss difficult.

9. Swap the cereal: Pack protein, fat and fiber into breakfast to keep hunger at bay. I suggest trying a two-egg scramble with mixed greens, avocado and fresh salsa.

[caption id="attachment_61347" align="alignnone" width="1065"] Photo via Little Spice Jar.[/caption]

10. Dine-in vs. Dine-out: Plan a cooking date or healthy gourmet family meal at home on the weekend. It's fun and it teaches valuable habits.

11. Snack smart: Ask yourself, "Am I hungry, stressed or bored?" before picking up a snack. Are you eating a meal's worth of snacks? You may have waited too long to eat and your body is ready for a full, balanced meal.

12. There's an app for that: Take the guesswork out of eating healthy by downloading the Eat Fit app, which supplies better-for-you recipes, restaurants and grocery shopping guides.

For recipes, fresh ideas and more, check out the Cuisine tab of the inRegister website. Ochsner Eat Fit is powered by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana. For more information, visit