Despite predictions by the Mayan calendar, the world is probably not going to end in 2012. So there goes your excuse to dive head first into gluttony. Instead, make 2012 a year to commit to a healthy diet and a healthy you.

For a few ideas on nutritious resolutions, Moonshine Ink went to naturopathic doctor Stephenie Riley, whose nutrition-focused practice encourages ‘eating well, living well, and being well.’ To Riley, diet and lifestyle are the seeds for optimal health.
‘It’s always going to be a much more uphill battle if you haven’t made the dietary and lifestyle changes,’ Riley said. ‘This is where it all starts.’

Riley listed a few ideas below to improve your health this year — and most of them speak to what goes into your mouth. Adopt one as your New Year’s resolution or try them all. And for those who want more specific and personalized nutrition advice, Riley’s office is open. Info: Tahoe Center for Natural Medicine, 600 North Lake Blvd, Tahoe City, (530) 583-0002, dr-riley.com

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Incorporate a new fruit or vegetable into your diet every month

Jicama January and fava bean February — introduce a new fruit or vegetable that you’ve never cooked before every month. Try different ways of preparing your new treat throughout the 30 days. You may find a new favorite dish.

Go gluten free for one month

There are ever more health reasons to go gluten free. Although not a health issue for everyone, it’s widespread enough to give it a trial. From fatigue to mood swings to depression and thyroid disorders, gluten can cause a diverse range of issues in different people. The best way to figure out if you have sensitivity to gluten is to go without it for a month and see if you feel better or not. With elimination and re-introduction of gluten, you’re going to know if it’s causing fatigue, depression, or other symptoms.

Rethink your cooking oils

Common cooking oils such as vegetable oil, canola oil, and corn oil are heavily GMO-laden. In addition, these contain the inflammatory omega-6 oils that are in abundance in our diet. The next time you need a splash of oil to warm up a pan, Riley recommends organic coconut oil.  Where many vegetable oils break down with heat and become more toxic, coconut oil, a medium-chain triglyceride, cooks well at high heat and does not loose its health benefits.

Go can-free for a month

Bisphenol-A is a chemical compound found in many plastics. Although taken out of many plastics containers, it is still prevalent in the lining of canned products.

Opt for only non-GMO foods for one month

Genetically modified (GMO) foods are slipping into our diets every day. Take note of the ingredients you are putting into your body. Look for products with a ‘Non-GMO’ label or buy organic, which technically should ensure there are no GMO ingredients in the item. A couple red-flag ingredients to keep an eye out for include soy (soy lecithin, soy protein), corn (high fructose corn syrup, corn starch), canola, and cottonseed oil. Visit nongmoproject.org for more suggestions and guidelines on non-GMO foods.

Join a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program

Riley subscribes to the Mountain Bounty CSA, which drops off a box of fresh fruits and veggies every week in Tahoe City. ‘To me, the benefit of the CSA is that you’re getting locally grown food,’ Riley said. Riley also mentioned that humans are meant to eat fruit picked at peak ripeness. And the farther away a fruit is grown from where it’s consumed, the earlier it must be picked so that it will be ripe in the store.

‘A CSA allows you to know what foods grow in your area, and it expands your horizons because you’re going to get fruit and vegetables that you may not normally eat,’ Riley said.

Know your ‘dirty dozen’ and only buy them organic

Not all fruits and vegetables were created equal. Those listed on the Environmental Working Group’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list consistently have the highest levels of pesticides and should be a top priority for your organic budget. Here are some items on the list: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes. According to EWP, consumers who avoid these affected fruits and vegetables — or choose to buy them organic — cut their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent.

Eat intentionally

In our eat-on-the-run world, take the time to eat each meal intentionally, Riley said. No reading, computers, or TVs with a meal — only good company.

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