How to Be Healthy and Happy in the New Year

With the hectic holiday season now past and a new year underway, millions of people are vowing to shed those unwanted pounds. Indeed, with obesity increasing at an alarming rate across the globe, a growing number of consumers are adopting weight loss goals.

According to the World Health Organization, more people in the world now die from being overweight and obese than being underweight. Statistics show there are about 1.6 billion overweight or obese people in the world and at least 2.5 million deaths are associated with these conditions annually. Once considered a problem only in high-income countries, obesity is now dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings.

However, people can safely lose weight and avoid the risks associated with obesity through portion control, calorie reduction, sugar-free foods and beverages and regular exercise.

“Making small changes can have big results,” said Beth Hubrich, a registered dietitian and executive director of the Calorie Control Council, an international association representing the low-calorie and reduced-fat food and beverage industry. “By reducing portions, controlling calories and adding more activity, people can lose weight without feeling deprived. These small changes are lifestyle changes and hopefully that is what 2010 will bring for overweight individuals – a focus on a healthier weight that can be maintained for life.”

Make simple substitutions.

Try preparing foods that are nutritious and satisfying yet low in calories. Create healthier versions of favorites by using skim milk instead of whole milk, applesauce in place of oil, or SPLENDA® Sucralose in place of the sugar in a recipe.

Eat less, more often.

Many experts say eating small snacks throughout the day will lead to healthier choices when it comes to the three main meals. Bring healthy snacks to work to curb your appetite, such as carrot sticks, pretzels, string cheese, low-fat energy bars or fruit. This way, you’re less likely to go home and eat a box of crackers with cheese before dinner. Also, frequently consuming snacks can help keep your blood sugar level steady and your energy up.

Watch what you drink.

When it comes to diets, many people focus on the food without accounting for beverages. Every fruit juice, soda, wine, beer and sweetened coffee comes bearing calories – with some containing as many as a meal. This is not to say you have to give up all your favorite beverages to lose weight. All foods and beverages can be incorporated into a healthy eating plan. However, you can save calories, for example, by drinking sucralose-sweetened products such as light lemonade and light cranberry juice or diet soda. Drinking a diet soda in place of a full-calorie soda can save 150 calories alone. Over the course of a year, that daily calorie savings could result in a 15-pound weight loss. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water.

Cut back on the sweets.

To help maintain a healthier shape, consider the calorie savings provided by low-calorie, sugar-free foods and beverages. Products sweetened with sucralose allow consumers to enjoy their favorite meals without the extra calories. For example, choosing sugar-free chocolate will save you 50 calories a day – or five pounds – by year’s end.

Physical fitness is key.

Regular exercise can produce overall health benefits. And it doesn’t have to involve hour-long training sessions at an expensive fitness center. Go for a quick jog in the morning before you get ready for work and walk or bicycle to the office. Bypass the elevator for the stairs and go for a brisk stroll around your building after lunch. Remember, muscle burns more calories than fat, so a regular mixture of cardio, flexibility and toning exercise is the best way to increase metabolism.

This year, don’t let weight gain be your worst nightmare. Start incorporating SPLENDA® Sucralose into your favorite recipes now in order to become a healthier new you. For more sucralose-sweetened recipes, check out www.sucralose.org/recipes/