Personally, I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. Why wait till a certain day of the year to make healthy lifestyle changes? However, having a “start date” is an important motivator for some, and why not the first of the New Year? Whatever date you start your healthy eating resolution, here are some ideas to help you stick with it.
Give your pantry and fridge a makeover
You can’t eat it if it’s not there, right? Out of sight, out of mind! Clean out all the highly processed foods and sugary snacks and beverages and replace them with whole foods: nuts, beans, grains, fresh and frozen veggies, whole fruit, dairy, and healthy proteins. Stock up on sugar-free seltzer water or plan to drink plain old water instead of soda. Likewise, bring some healthy snack options to work (because we all fall victim to the 2 PM snack attack), as well as some of your favorite teas.
Make a meal plan and prep for it
The best recipe for success is having a plan. Don’t leave the week’s meals to chance! I like to map out the week on Saturday and then spend Sunday morning roasting vegetables, boiling eggs, grilling up some protein, maybe even making a casserole. I’ll make a nice Sunday slow-cooker meal and make sure there are leftovers for at least one meal later in the week. A great option is to follow a meal plan from a doctor or nutritionist, like those in Dr. David Ludwig’s Always Hungry? or Dr. Mark Hyman’s 10 Day Detox Diet.
Have substitutes for your favorite unhealthy meals, snacks, and beverages
When I first decided to quit drinking soda, I did it by weaning myself off the sugar bit by bit. I mixed sparkling water with fruit juice, decreasing the juice until I was drinking 100 percent sparkling water. I weaned myself off sugary coffee drinks by switching to honey in my coffee and then decreasing the amount until I was drinking no-sugar coffee. And if you like flavored creamers, try Nut Pods! They’re delicious and sugar free. My solution to the 2 PM snack attack is roasted nuts, an apple with almond butter, or full-fat Greek yogurt. I also love baking healthy snack alternatives like the Anytime Cookie from Nourished Kitchen.
Find an accountability group
The beauty of social media is that you can connect to people all over the world who share your interests. There are Whole 30 groups online, as well as other healthy eating groups that you can join. If not one of those, I bet you could find a community of friends and family with similar goals who would love to join you on your journey. Use your community to help you stay on track! It’s also handy if your partner and closest friends and relatives know what you’re up to, so they don’t serve you foods that don’t support your goals.
Go easy on yourself
If you slip up one day and eat a bag of chips, don’t throw all your effort and plans out the window. Every meal is a chance to start again, and one slip won’t ruin your progress. Long-term consistency is the real key!
Learn to love vegetables!
Some might say that the key to health is a Keto Diet, or a Paleo Diet, or a Vegan Diet. Whatever diet you choose, just make sure that vegetables are the cornerstone. Low calorie and full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, vegetables have no substitute! Think about vegetables in a new light, not just as that one-third of your plate that rounds out the meal with the starch and the protein. Try making veggies the star of the meal, in a zucchini noodle pad thai or cauliflower risotto.