Resolutions and the New Year are like peanut butter and jelly: they just fit together so nicely. After what seems like two months of holidays, partying and eating in excess, the New Year brings with it a desire to start fresh and implement those changes that we have been mulling over for months.
If you are a chronic New Year’s resolution-maker, you probably already know that huge diet overhauls and extreme New Year’s resolutions most often end in failure before spring hits. Too hard to follow and manage in a busy life, these excessive resolutions are tossed to the wayside until the following year when they rear their pesky head again.
Do you want to try something a little more fail-proof this year? Well, here it is: start small. Implement a couple of reasonable changes that you can incorporate into your already hectic life and stick with all year. By making these slow changes to our diet, we are less likely to fall back into old habits. Instead, this year let’s shape some new ones.
Pick a couple of these easy-to-follow, feasible resolutions and get on track to changing the way you think about eating. Take these simple steps now, and later you can add on more as you adjust to the changes.
Get Water Happy
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, one in four Americans gets at least 200 calories per day from sugary drinks. This amount alone, with no other changes in the diet, can account for a weight gain of 5 pounds per year. Instead of sodas, juices and energy drinks, this year commit to reaching for a glass of water instead.
Don’t just quit soda cold turkey. It’s way too easy to fall off that wagon fast, especially if you fuel up on several per day. Instead, try these moves to limit your consumption:
- Replace one soda daily with a glass of water.
- Drink a glass of water upon waking and before eating.
- Aim to drink a bit more water today than you did yesterday.
- Replace sugary beverages with infused water that has been steeping for several hours with strawberries, oranges, lemons or limes for a refreshing drink.
- Replace sugary beverages with herbal teas, Celestial Seasonings Teas® have a ton of options to keep your taste buds interested.
Cut Back on Meat
Going vegetarian is a big commitment. Dropping meat for one day per week isn’t. This simple goal can help you shed extra pounds and also improve your health over the long term. Add beans or fish as the protein in a meal once per week for a healthier-for-you change. Most beans have little or no fat, (except for garbanzos and soy beans), are a source of fiber and protein, and are cholesterol free..; the added bonus is that they cost just a fraction of meat. Fatty fish like salmon contain healthy fats and taste great.
If you enjoy meat, don’t think you have to cut it out entirely. Instead, limit portions to 6 ounces per day and choose skinless chicken more often than beef, lamb or pork. To help you get started, try:
Preparing your weekly meat-free meal with a fatty fish such as salmon or tuna.
- Starting simple by making tacos using refried beans, like Bearitos® Refried Beans, instead of meat or heating up some Imagine Foods® Split Pea soup.
- Soaking and cooking large batches of beans weekly and freezing them in portion sizes for recipes so you have them on hand when needed.
- Cutting back on meat when you do cook it by making stir fries, casseroles or soups using small slices of meat mixed with vegetables and other grains instead of a steak, chop or other large cut.
Get Serious About Veggies and Fruit
Study after study shows that Americans do not get enough fruits and vegetables in their daily diet. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is compelling evidence that these nutritional powerhouses are responsible for protecting against many types of cancer and chronic diseases, and they are low in fat and calories, while still filling you up. Challenge yourself to increase your vegetable and fruit intake this year.
Choose whole, real fruits and vegetables and get started with these ideas:
- Pack a piece of fruit in your lunch for a snack everyday.
- Work to incorporate all the colors of the rainbow into your diet, as each color of fruit and vegetable has vitamins unique to them.
- Try to eat cruciferous vegetables daily, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, cauliflower and cabbage. Try this Roasted Cauliflower Pilaf for a hearty winter meal.
- Add vegetables and fruits to a smoothie for a snack between meals or a breakfast on the go.
- Try new vegetables and get your family involved in helping you decide on some new recipes and ways to prepare them. We have lots of vegetable laden recipes for inspiration (link to veggie recipes).
Help Yourself Out
A big part of making even simple changes in your eating and lifestyle is setting yourself up with the tools to make your plan work.
Just like you can’t run a marathon without practice, you cannot jump into dietary changes without some thought on how to make these things a reality. Get yourself on the track to success by:
- Clearing your house of temptation. If you have a hard time making nutritious choices, don’t stock your cupboards with cookies, candy and chips. Instead, work to have a handful of nutritious snacks on hand that you can go to when hunger strikes.
- Finding a buddy to share in your goals, weaknesses and triumphs in your journey. Positive influences on your healthy eating change spur you to continue.
- Getting plenty of sleep and exercise so that you are well-rested and ready to take on the challenges that present themselves, both with food and otherwise in your life.