“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver”—Mahatma Gandhi

Unless we have the most important asset, it doesn’t matter how many designer handbags, sports cars or luxury vacations we can afford. Prioritizing health is guaranteed to give you your best ‘ROI’ for 2020.

Still, we’re human and sometimes fall into unhealthy lifestyle habits. It happens. After this short season of overindulgence, it’ll be time for renewal. Here are 5 ways to set yourself up for a healthier new year.

1. Reduce reliance on processed foods
We often opt for convenience by reaching for fast food that’s often packed with sodium, sugar and saturated fats, none of which support our health and may increase our risk of chronic illnesses.

Resolution Solution?
Good old-fashioned home cooking. Make it less of a chore by setting time aside, once a week, to cook in bulk. By inviting friends to join in, it’s a social way to fill up the fridge for the week ahead with fully prepped meals. Imagine the stress relief when, at the end of a busy day, you’ve got a tasty, healthy meal ready to serve.

2. Plant Love
Protein is an essential macronutrient and a building block to build and repair muscle. But you need a lot less than you think. According to the World Health Organization, protein intake should constitute 10-15% of your total caloric intake, or approximately 0.83 grams per kilogram of body weight. Last year, changes to the Canada Food Guide gave meat and dairy a back seat to plant-based meals including whole grains and protein derived from lentils, legumes, nuts, seeds and tofu.

Resolution Solution?
Incorporate more plant-based proteins into your diet. So easy is it to add tempeh, soybeans, lentils, split peas and black beans to salads and soups.

3. Sweet Surrender
The average adult Canadian consumes 88 pounds of sugar a year— much of in the form of fruit juices, sports drinks and pop.

Resolution Solution?
Drink water instead. Aim for 8 glasses a day. Keep a glass by your bedside so you can have your first glass upon waking. Keep a pitcher on your office desk or carry a refillable water bottle. Add lemon, lime, orange or cucumber slices or herbal teas for flavor.

4. Move It
Sitting begets more sitting.

Resolution Solution?
Start your day by limbering up with some gentle stretching or even a few more challenging moves like squats, downward dogs, or planks. Make it a habit to take the stairs or the long way around the office. Fit in a walk after lunch and dinner to aid digestion. Even an extra five minutes a day can make a difference to your overall health.

5. Sleep Well
Research has shown that a lack of sleep is associated with poor health, weight gain, and impaired cognition.

Resolution Solution?
Practice better sleep hygiene. Create a pre-bedtime ritual. Turn off your devices an hour before bed. (The blue light from your screens disturbs your circadian rhythms and the release of melatonin which is the hormone we need to fall asleep.) Relax with gentle stretches, a relaxing book, or a short meditation.

Invest wisely. While managing your money is important, don’t neglect your health. Otherwise you may not be able to fully enjoy the rewards of your hard work. Women often put others’ needs ahead of our own. Let’s make 2020 the year of self-care!

Michelle Kosoy CNP is a Holistic Nutritionist, Cooking Instructor, creator of the ‘10 Day Healthy Habits Reboot’ and Founder of Walnut Kitchen, a trusted resource to live well, eat well and age with strength, vitality and optimal health. 

Michelle is a former broadcast executive and producer for HGTV, Food Network, CBC and NBC News. After over 25 years overseeing thousands of hours of television, she followed her lifelong passion for healthy eating to become a Holistic Nutritionist. Her mission is to empower women 40 + to ‘Live Well and Age Better’ starting with food. Through her workshops and nutrition programs her goal is to help women to be physically strong, emotionally grounded and spiritually fulfilled. She created Walnut Kitchen, a trusted online resource for those looking to optimize their health, vitality and longevity: https://walnutkitchen.ca/