The end of the year gets us thinking better health, better nutrition, maybe even a complete diet overhaul. But experts agree, change is most successful and long lasting if you add small (but impactful) tweaks to your lifestyle. And your goal does not have to be weight loss . . . maybe you want more energy through the day, better sleep, or even just a little more fun in your daily routine.
Whatever you’d like to change or achieve in the coming year, remember that change takes time and patience. Introduce one new practice and focus on that for a few weeks (or longer) until it becomes routine. Then add something new and don’t worry about missteps – just get back at it when you’re able.
Be conscious of your results – for instance, how do you feel after you’ve tried a vegan burger – track it, acknowledge it, and remind yourself about the outcome until it becomes part of your regular lifestyle. And by this time next year, you’ll have a host of new healthy habits!
Ten Diet Tweaks for the New Year.
- Add the rainbow to your day. In general, the less colorful the food, the less nutrition it provides. Try adding three colorful foods to every meal – think raspberries, blueberries, purple carrots, dark red beets, sweet potatoes, deep green kale, etc.. Experiment with new cooking techniques -- roasted root veggies and broccoli are delicious and the kids will actually eat them.
- Upgrade your snacking game. Snacks are an important part of your diet! They can provide an energy boost at mid-morning and midday and can keep you from overeating at meal time. But all snacks are not created equal! Many are filled with salt and sugar and really are just empty calories – look for snacks with protein (i.e., from nuts or lentils); with good fats and natural ingredients, and with high nutritional ratings. These will boost your nutrition and keep your energy at an even keel. (Can we recommend these choices? We’ve curated them to give the best nutrition and be delicious!)
- Go plant-based. Switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet has so many benefits – better for your health, better for the planet, better for animals (obviously!), and usually more organic. But this swap will get pushback from your family! But even going plant-based one or two days a week can have an impact. And it’s easy to find tasty options at nearly any market! Start out with a black bean burger – your family will love it and never know the difference.
- Get to know good fats. Look for omega-3 fats; monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats – avoid saturated and trans fats. It’s easy to swap these out (choose olive oil over margarine) and many of your favorite foods are filled with them (avocados, walnuts, flaxseed, tuna, and dark chocolate). Did you know eating “good fat” can actually aid in weight loss?
- Don’t drink your calories. You think you’re picking something healthy when you order a Matcha Frappuccino – but it can have up to 300 calories (that is the same as SEVEN Oreos!). Start by swapping for less sweetened beverages and slowly switch to simple flavored teas you can brew yourself (you’ll save money and it counts as water intake!).
- Be honest about portions. We’ve been fooled by restaurants into thinking that a single serving is huge! Go back to the basics and read the label, measure out your serving, and never eat straight from the bag (unless it’s a single serving). Luckily this does not apply to veggies so you can pile those on without worry.
- Avoid mindless eating. In our grab and go, eat on the run culture it’s super easy to lose track of what and how much you’re eating. Seriously – what did you eat for lunch yesterday? Make an effort to be aware of every bite (yes, this includes not looking at your phone while you eat). Savor the smell, taste, texture, and think about what you’re eating. Plan your meals and snacks and appreciate the ingredients. You’ll not only enjoy your meals more but you definitely will eat less as you slow down.
- Drink more water. We’ve heard this so many times over our lives but very few of us accomplish getting our recommended H2O intake every day. Nutritionists have moved away from the standard “8 glasses a day” and instead are recommending drinking half your body weight in ounces per day (even more if you’re exercising strenuously or live in a hot climate). Water intake includes the water in other beverages too. Try using a clear water bottle that’s marked with volume and literally write down how much you’re drinking each day.
- Start the day with protein. If you typically start off with grain-based breakfast such as cereal or a muffin, you’re shortchanging yourself for the entire day. And all but guaranteeing you’ll have a mid-morning slump as your blood sugar drops. Adding protein (yogurt, eggs, nut butters) will help you feel full longer, give you more steady energy levels, and help you focus straight through until lunchtime.
- Don’t deprive yourself. It’s easy to just swear off goodies but we all know that just means you can’t stop thinking about them! Treat yourself to your favorites once in a while.