Especially after an indulgent December, the beginning of the new year often feels like the time to reassess your eating routine, and reset your health intentions for the coming months. However, when setting new year’s resolutions, remember to go easy on yourself. January should be about falling back into healthy habits, not about punishing yourself or setting unrealistic goals. So if you’re looking for simple ways to improve your health after a season of cookies and eggnog, consider incorporating one or more of these tips into your life this month.
Replace bad fats with healthy fats–and really enjoy them
The issue: You’re ingesting too much junk food. This results in a diet high in saturated and trans fats, as well as one that often lacks in the nutrients you need to function at your best. Although in the past we thought fat was something we needed to be fearful of, that’s not the case at all. We actually need a certain amount of fat in our diets in order to function.
How to fix it: Healthy fats are found in foods such as olive oil and olives, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, and salmon. Good fats help to raise good HDL cholesterol, lower bad LDL cholesterol, and protect against the buildup of plaque in your arteries. They also help you absorb vitamins A, D, and E, which are vital to your nervous system.
Fall in love with fruits and veggies
The issue: We’ve said we want to start eating more fruits and veggies every new year for the past ten years, but never do. This might be because in recent years, we’ve been doing it wrong. You won’t actually eat more fruits and vegetables if you don’t find them appetizing, which why this year, I recommend reintroducing yourself to produce.
How to fix it: Don’t let your resolution result in a few extra slices of carrots and cucumber with your sandwich at lunch. Instead, explore how fruits and veggies can totally amp up big hearty salads, soups, and stews. Get creative with recipes that showcase veggies instead of sneaking them in, like the Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Bacon and Tahini Dressing, the Savoury Lentil Carrot Soup, or the Stuffed Eggplant with Garlic Scape Pesto. Don’t let yourself think of fruits and veggies as a chore!
Reduce your sugar intake
The issue: You’re addicted to sugar. Sugar is often the culprit behind a failed move to begin eating healthier, and there’s a scientific reason for that. When we consume sugar, dopamine and serotonin flood our brain as we enter a ‘sugar high’. Similar to a drug, our body craves more after the initial high, which is why we often find ourselves craving the sweet stuff. Worse, the more you eat, the more you crave it.
How to fix it: To be proactive about kicking out sugar, try to eat no more than 24 grams (or 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day. If you’re being mindful about eating mostly foods with whole, fresh, and unprocessed ingredients, you may not find this to be that difficult. However, sugar hides in prepared cereals, snacks, yoghurts, and more. In some yoghurts for example, you may find that one serving contains your entire day’s worth of sugar. Educate yourself on how much you’re actually ingesting each day. You might be surprised.
Eat one more family meal a week
The issue: Family meals have been pushed to the back burner. As a result, kids are eating breakfast bars for breakfast, and hitting the drive-through or eating in front of the TV for dinner. It can be easy to get into an eating on-the-go routine, but it often results in unhealthy, unbalanced meals, as well as less bonding time. Studies have shown that family meals can help decrease the risk of obesity, strengthen relationships between family members, and simply help keep teens out of trouble.
How to fix it: Designate a day, with no exceptions. Sundays seem to work well for many households, but pick whatever day works for all. Putting your energy into getting everyone together may have you wanting to keep the meals quick and easy, so try out the no fuss Leftover Roasted Veggies Frittata, or Grilled Salmon Tacos for healthy dinners that won’t stress you out.
Become a meal prep master
The issue: You can’t get yourself organized for making your own meals. You’re picking up lunch, ordering in, and picking up snacks on your afternoon coffee runs. You feel like you’re spending way too much money, and aren’t eating the balanced meals that you need to feel properly healthy and energized.
How to fix it: Meal prep. When you’re tired, you’re prone to make unhealthy choices. This is why being armed with a fridge full of healthy meals and snacks that are ready to go can be the key to any healthy reset plan. Check out our post on 5 Foods To Prep For A Healthier Week so that you can ensure your fridge is always filled with the foundations of a few healthy meals you can whip up in minutes! Other quick fixes, such as making big batches of soup, having fruit and veggies chopped up for snacking, or being savvy with leftovers, are all helpful in staying organized when it comes to meal prep and staying on track.
January has got us thinking about balance, health, and resolutions, but the goal here is to set reasonable intentions with these resolutions, not to punish ourselves for indulging over the holidays. The hope is that these tips will help get you back into your old routine, so you can be equipped with the tools you need to kick off the new year healthy. How do you get back into a healthy routine?