Resolutions, resolutions, resolutions. It’s that time of year where pretty much everyone is thinking about leaving old habits behind once the clock strikes 12, especially with food. And while it’s perfectly normal to want to do so (esp. considering how much we may have indulged during the last 2 months of the year), instead of trying to cut stuff out cold turkey (and being right back at this place at the end of next year), really think about trying to develop healthier habits overall when it comes to food.
It IS the perfect time for a fresh start, though, so here are 5 tips for healthier eating habits in the New Year:
Be honest about your relationship with certain foods.
This is the most important thing when it comes to evolving the way you eat. For example, I have a raging sweet tooth. I love almost all greens, veggies, nuts, and fruit, and am perfectly content with “eating clean” 99% of the time, but I can easily wreck a day of healthy eating with a sugar attack. So, one thing that I continuously work on is limiting how much of the sweet stuff that I have at home. If I don’t buy it, I can’t eat it, so if I don’t keep it in my pantry, I can’t absentmindedly snack on it. Does that mean I don’t stop and get a cookie or cupcake every once in a while? Hell no. But it does mean I think twice about spending my $$ on it, so I don’t do it as much. You don’t have to have a treat every single day though, and if you make it a small one, you won’t feel so deprived and go crazy at the bakery. I also try to replace processed sugar with natural sugar (which helps a ton), but I’m honest with myself about it and work on it every day.
Cut calories, but make sure you eat enough.
I’m gonna keep it real with you: most people that are on a diet are ALWAYS hungry. Like, constantly. All they’re doing is thinking about the food that they can’t have while eating some weird ass soup concoction to cut calories + drop some lbs. That’s NOT healthy yall. You have to eat REAL food, and you have to eat enough of it in order to truly nourish your body. Find an online calculator to determine how many calories you should eat each day to maintain your weight, and cut 500 calories from that to lose a lb a week. Age, height, weight, and activity levels will determine how much you need (and can even affect how much you actually lose), but you really shouldn’t try to lose more than 2 lbs a week. I’m no nutritionist, but most people that have rapid weight loss from crazy diets typically gain it back once they start eating normal again or worse, they get sick. All calories aren’t created the same either, so don’t think if you’re still eating crap (but just smaller amounts) that you’re gonna lose weight. That’s not how any of that works, folks.
Stock up on healthy foods that you’ll actually eat.
If you know that you hate oranges, cucumbers, or salmon, why do you have that in your fridge??? It makes no sense to buy foods that are technically healthy for you but you won’t actually eat. If you want to waste money, just throw it out the window (or give it to me. I’ll PayPal link you). Be real with yourself before you go to the market and make a list of healthy foods that you actually like. If you’re not open to experimenting with different foods then know that your meals may lack variety for a bit, but once you get a foundational meal plan in place that has you eating healthy foods at least 80% of the time, you’ll be ok and will want to start trying different foods. Eating better is a lifestyle change, so take your time.
Cook more + prep snacks.
I know that sometimes cooking can be a chore, but it’s the safest way to know what’s actually going in your food. A lot of healthy dishes at restaurants still contain a ton of sodium, so cooking at home and flavoring your food with herbs + spices will allow you to have healthy eats that actually taste good too. Pick up a few cookbooks (or hell, just search on Pinterest) and make a list of meals that you want to try. Also find healthy snacks that you can keep on hand to keep from going into starvation mode. I try to keep nuts or protein bars with me in my purse or car for days when I’m on the go, and my go-to snack at home is Greek yogurt, organic honey + berries (which also helps my sweet tooth too). If push comes to shove and you have/want to eat out, look at their healthier options. If you must indulge, balance the dish with water + salad, and only eat half of it (and do the same thing when you eat the other half).
Get serious about your water intake.
If you say that you don’t feel right, I am that person that will ask you if you’ve had water. Got a stomachache, headache, or feeling sluggish? Drink some water. Seriously, many of the ailments that we have (including skin issues) come from not eating well and not getting enough water in our system. I know that companies make juice cleanses and pills to help you flush toxins out but you can save yourself some money and up your intake of fruits, veggies, and water to do the exact same thing. Your body was designed to do that on its own. You can make a natural detox water with freshly sliced lemons, cucumbers, and mint. It makes it even more refreshing, and can help those that “hate” the taste of water to consume more. I personally drink water at room temperature in order to drink more. Seems weird to some, but my motto is “get it in, get it out”. It ain’t champagne so I’m not trying to just sip + sip. 8 glasses a day is a minimum to shoot for, but to stay properly hydrated, you should really be drinking half your weight in water. Spread it out throughout the day, but it really goes hand-in-hand with eating well.
Developing a better relationship with food and an overall healthier lifestyle is a journey for real and takes time so don’t feel bad if you slip up every once in a while. Speaking from my own experiences, once I started really paying attention to what I was consuming, I saw and felt a difference in my body, and naturally crave healthier foods now. Every day is a new day, so take your time and ease into it. Your health will thank you for it!