One of the most exciting things about the new year is getting to start fresh with new goals. I know I’m not the only person on the planet to make a resolution to eat healthier come January 1, but I also know I am not the only one to give it up by mid-January. Winter is a difficult time to eat better thanks to all of those desserts + comfort food recipes calling our names — even post holiday time — but this year all that can change.
I’ve always been the go-to healthy eating gal amongst my group of friends, but setting realistic goals can be difficult for anyone. It’s my first instinct to go all-out with a new vegan challenge or committing to the gym every day when I wake up on Monday morning, and I have proven to myself time and time again that this just doesn’t work (you too?). Instead, investing in more realistic food resolutions, like cutting sugar or cooking more, has allowed me to not stress myself out, and thus actually give me the mental energy to focus on achieving them. And isn’t that all we really want in the new year? Here are my six easy-to-make resolutions that will make 2016 the year you actually maintain your healthy eating goals.
1. Embrace Eating Healthy Fats: In my (and your) quest to eat healthier and possibly lose weight, I am constantly forgetting about one important factor: Fats are not actually our enemy. Healthy fats are vital to absorbing vitamins, have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, boost our immune system and even help our weight loss efforts. Instead of buying low-fat everything the way I did back in my college days, these days, I make it a point to incorporate healthy fats into my diet. This means foods like fish (especially ones high in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon — with soba noodles and a ginger-green onion broth, it’s *divine*), avocadosand coconut oil. You can even combine them with a delicious smoked salmon and smashed avocado tartine for brunch or an easy shrimp avocado soup for dinner. (Photo + Recipe via Taste Williams-Sonoma)
2. Sneak in More Veggies (+ Fruits): Eating more produce is a big “duh” on the to-do list when it comes to being healthier, but not all of us can stomach unending salads and roasted veggies all year long. When I’m simply over yet another kale dish day in and day out, I opt for veggie-full smoothies or recipes with hidden vegetables instead. Then, when it’s time for a mid-day snack, I go for some fruit salads that will have all of us checking off five servings of fruits and veggies in no time. (Photo + Recipe via Simple Roots Wellness)
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Cook New Food: Part of eating healthier is also knowing exactly what goes into your food. So instead of heading to my favorite taqueria for tacos al pastor or getting my usual Pad See Ew from the nearest Thai joint, this year it’s time to embrace the kitchen and start cooking up your favorite global cuisines at home. Whether you’re opting for the best Mexican out there (like a simple sweet potato and black bean salad), want to warm up with curry or are simply looking for ways to upgrade your ramen, studies have shown that cooking at home means healthier meals and fewer calories — typically you’re consuming less carbs, less sugar and less (unhealthy) fats, and you have the ability to control your salt intake. Isn’t that enough reason to break out the slow cooker and make that boeuf bourguignon you’ve always dreamed of tackling? (Photo + Recipe via Two Peas + Their Pod)
4. Get Better at Planning Your Meals: Eating healthier is a lot easier when I’m actually planning out my meals, which makes it easy to avoid last-minute eating out. Instead of picking up a latte and croissant on the way to work or running to the corner deli for a lunchtime salad, try a make-ahead breakfast for busy mornings and lunches that will get you through the work week. Planning my meals also allows me to focus on other goals, such as cooking more often, controlling portions, eating less meat (hello, strawberry and goat cheese mason jar salad for a scrumptious, make-ahead Meatless Monday!) and making sensible food swaps. (Photo + Recipe via Food and Other Stuff)
5. Start Your Mornings Without Sugar: Cereal and coffee is an easy go-to breakfast, but what if you’re looking to cut back on sugar this year? It’s much easier than it sounds. Personally, I’m tired of starting my mornings with the same old sugar-spike-then-crash-and-burn routine. Instead, it’s easy to start my mornings with healthier meals, like smoothies made from winter produce or healthy oatmeal recipes that incorporate add-ons like chicken skin “bacon” ‘n’ eggs. The fiber in this breakfast will help you feel full longer, and keep us all from suffering from that dreaded afternoon slump. (Photo + Recipe via I Will Not Eat Oysters)
6. Make Food More Fun, Period: In an effort to make food healthier, I’m sometimes guilty of inadvertently making it a little boring. The same old breakfast, lunches and dinners can get really old, really fast. Instead of falling into a healthy-but-boring eating rut, it’s time to make an effort to keep food more fun this year. Start a new tradition, like a Wednesday night potluck with friends where everyone has to bring a good-for-you dish; take a cooking class with bae or embrace your love of food trucks by recreating some recipes at home. (Photo + Recipe via Peegaw)