The new year is usually filled with lots of resolutions that are weight-oriented and extremely restrictive. People end up forcing themselves to follow some crazy nutrition program that they eventually despise, leading them on a downhill spiral of self-hate and despair once they fall off track with it. While getting and staying health is important, trying to follow restrictive diets may only lead you to disappointment, guilt, and an even unhealthier diet than before. This year, set goals for yourself that will actually help you be healthy, without it feeling like such a daunting task! Check out these resolutions that Leah and I put together to help you lead a healthier lifestyle long term.
- Become a regular of your local farmers market or purchase a CSA share
Visiting your local farmers market is a great way to get fresh air, learn what’s in season, and take pride in the produce you’re purchasing. Before you gawk at some of the prices at farmers market… Think about this. When produce is sold at a location close to the farm, the produce is picked when it is ripest making it more nutrient dense. Also, the farm does not have to use as many pesticides to keep it fresh (even organic farms use pesticides, sorry friends) because your food isn’t being shipped across the country then left sitting on a store shelf, making it safer to eat. You’re getting healthier, better quality produce just by driving down the street!
A csa share is a way of getting weekly produce from a local farm. In the beginning of the year, you basically purchase a share of their farm, providing you with a bag or bin of their produce weekly. This is a great way to get fresh, local produce and the best part is, because it’s all in season, most of the vegetables you’ll receive go really well together in many recipes. You can find a local CSA share here.
Literally anything. It can be some basil in your window, a tomato plant by your porch, or a bed of lettuce. Growing your own food will give you a bit of pride and inspire you to work the food into your regular meals. How would you let fresh bell peppers go to waste if you worked so hard to grow them?
This may sound like a crazy resolution, but I promise it’s worth it. In my 23 years of living, I have always dreaded eating kale. Helping my father garnish veggie platters as a kid, I grew up thinking kale was inedible and only possibly used as a garnish. You can’t blame me-most people only eat it in smoothie form anyway! But as a dietetic student in college, I felt like I was constantly pressured to eat this tough leaf. One day, prepping for a cooking class, I had to make a massaged kale salad- which seemed horrid to me. But my boss made me try it, and I have not stopped making massaged kale salads since. It’s my go-to party dish that somehow everyone loves (and is super healthy!).
While you don’t need to eat a salad every meal, every day (please don’t), making sure you have at least one fruit or vegetable in each meal is a small step in the right direction to meeting your micronutrient needs (those little vitamins and minerals your body absorbs to do important stuff). Starting with baby steps helps your long-term healthy eating goals easier to achieve. Experiment with different veggies, and mixing them with other veggies, to balance flavors and vary nutrients in your meal.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but fad diets don’t work. If they did work, how would the diet industry make any money off of you? Cutting out gluten or carbs or fat etc. (unless you are metabolically compromised) is not healthy and is not sustainable long term. Fad diets can be tempting when they claim to solve all your weight loss problems, but they are almost always filled with misinformation that worsens your health in the long run.
6. Learn how to cook
Whether you’re getting too comfortable with fast food or simply want to improve your health, learning to cook is one way to help tackle the task-and we don’t expect you to cook every dish possible by next month! If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to cook every meal you eat if that’s overwhelming. But set a goal for how many times a week you want to cook dinner at home-and keep it realistic. If your Tuesday nights are packed, cook a new meal on Monday that can stretch to Tuesdays dinner!
If cooking is new to you, also try to master one type of dish first. Want to learn to make soup and also learn to make ravioli? Try a few soup recipes for a few weeks until you get comfortable with what you’re doing before moving onto the next big boy project.
7. Rid yourself of restrictions
Depriving yourself of the foods you love will only make you crave them even more. Balance is key when it comes to a sustainable way of eating. It’s important to remind yourself that your body needs calories. Calories are energy, without them you’d die. It also needs protein, fat, and carbs every single day. Why bold the and carbs? Because your brain literally relies on carbs to function. Literally. Strive to eat foods that nourish your body and provide it with what it needs. And while you should be eating a vast majority of your calories from minimally processed sources, there is room for the food you generally categorize as “unhealthy”. If you really love donuts, and eating a healthy diet, an occasional donut is not going to damage your health and does not need to be considered a “cheat food” to enjoy.
Eating something that is deemed unhealthy won’t make or break your diet, the same way as drinking one green smoothie won’t suddenly make you healthy. It’s okay to eat foods that aren’t the best for you when you’re balancing them out with nutrient dense foods as well. Depriving yourself of the foods you love and crave most always results in a binge cycle that leads to self loath.
Have any other resolutions that have helped you maintain a healthy diet? Feel free to comment below, we’d love to be inspired!