Eating Healthy in the New Year

“New Year, New Me” seems to be the theme of January that many of us turn to year after year. For some, it works for many by the time February hits we slip back to old habits. The pendulum swings back and forth throughout the year as we try new and different diets or trends with the hope of losing weight and feeling better. But alas, December rolls in and we tend to find ourselves saying, “Next year will be the year I finally get in shape and lose weight!”

Granted, 2020 was a bit of a struggle for all of us. Let’s start 2021 off on the right foot and learn how to maintain a healthy weight, and enjoy foods we like at the same time. Changes in our habits don’t and won’t happen overnight, so be kind to yourself and trust the process. Remember, eating healthy is not a punishment—in fact, it’s a reward for your body. It’s a way of telling your body that you care, and you want it to be happy! In exchange, your body will care for you and keep you healthy. Eating healthy also doesn’t mean we need to have a lack of flavorful foods. Adding in fresh and dried herbs and spices will punch up your flavor and may even increase metabolism, enhance fat burning, and promote feelings of fullness.

So, how can we begin a journey that will lead us to better overall health?

Start Slowly

In order to eat healthily, you need to combine nutritionally dense foods with common sense and a whole lot of enjoyment! Use the 90/10 rule; eating right 90% of the time is what matters, it’s ok to splurge once in a while. If you have a craving address it and move on, this will help you from binging later. And by all means, don’t starve yourself. Your body needs food for energy!

Eat Breakfast Every Day

Eating a nutritious breakfast is a great way to jump-start the day. Starting your day with a healthy protein, good fat, and a complex carb will help you get the day off on the right foot. It may even help to minimize impulse snacking and overeating at other meals, boost your intake of essential nutrients, and may also help keep your weight in check.

Eat More Nuts and Seeds

Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and pistachios all pack plenty of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Although many nuts are high in fat, the fat is mainly unsaturated making them a great choice to help you eat healthily. Since nuts can also be higher in calories, it's best to enjoy them in place of other snacks and not in addition to them. Try keeping your serving sizes small usually just a handful!

Taste Your Food

Many of us reach immediately for the saltshaker when food hits the table. If you’re cooking at home taste your food as you go, try adding in herbs and spices to ramp up flavors. If you taste your food before adding salt you might also discover that your meal is flavorful enough.

Make Healthy Choices Available

Adding healthy snacks and foods to your grocery list automatically makes it easier to eat healthy with less stress. Buy a few apples, some fresh in-season fruit, baby carrots, hummus, cucumbers, lightly or unsalted nuts and seeds, homemade granola, or really anything your like. If it's packaged make sure you check for added sugars and sodium. This makes healthy food choices readily available to you and they’re portable which makes it easy to have them on the go as well.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Grilled, baked, raw, or roasted fruits and veggies are a nutrient-packed way to fill your plate with food that is generally low in calories. You may think you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables but try tracking how often you actually do eat them for one week—the result may surprise you! Try getting a minimum of five servings a day, and more if you can. Remember, start slow and work your way up. 

Chef's Note
One serving equals a half-cup of chopped fruit or most vegetables. For raw, leafy greens like lettuce and spinach, a serving is one cup.

Ideally, the food you eat should delight your senses. Your plate should look pretty, smell great, taste delicious, and have different textures.  Start the new year off on the right foot. Go slow and learn to enjoy your food. Try something new once a week to expand your food choices, this will help you from getting bored with your food and falling back on old habits. Eat well and stay healthy. Cheers to a Happy New Year!