Is your New Year’s Resolution still alive? Is that gusto that fueled the desire for change on Jan 1 still there, or has it already been snuffed out by busy schedules and loss of motivation? Many people focus on some aspect of their diet and health for resolutions, as the preceding month of over-indulgence leaves us feeling puffy, pudgy and eager for change. Unfortunately, “Lose 10 lbs” or “Eat Healthier” don’t translate into sustainable change unless they are backed by lifestyle shifts. Here are 4 simple suggestions to breathe life back into those health resolutions, so that next year you can focus on goals such as ‘take more vacations’ or ‘start my novel’.
1. Eat a good breakfast: Did you know the way you feel at 3pm is directly related to your breakfast (or lack thereof)? Not only do you need to eat breakfast, but it needs to contain a decent amount of protein, usually around 20g. Breakfasts consisting of only simple carbohydrates with little or no protein such as cereal with skim milk, instant flavored oatmeal, or a bagel with jam will all invite blood sugar problems later in the day. Most people need a snack in the mid afternoon to sustain energy until the dinner hour, but ‘need a snack’ and ‘being so hungry/hangry you could gnaw on the baseboard’ and so eat an entire box of cookies, are two very different things. If the latter is happening, you are not broken, your breakfast is.
2. Try a new vegetable every month: We hear over and over, that the more vegetables we consume, the lower our risks are for disease and obesity, so why is it so hard to increase consumption? Lack of variety. Without variety, increasing veggie consumption would mean eating copious amounts of our few go-to vegetables, which is unappetizing and boring. The next time you are at the supermarket, take note of the vegetables you have ignored all these years and pick one to try, then experiment with preparation. All greens (kale, chard, spinach) are fantastic with eggs, or sautéed with onion and a little bacon. All root vegetables (turnips, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga) roast beautifully with a little oil and salt, and winter squash are magic when roasted, or pureed into velvety soups.
3. Eat at home more often: This does not mean cook from a cookbook every night. One of my favorite strategies is to roast something big one evening per week, such as a whole chicken/pork loin/chuck roast, then pack up the leftover. These can top salads, are suitable for lunchboxes, and can be the backbone of dinners later in the week such as curries, fried rice, spaghetti sauce, soup, or tacos. Not to imply this philosophy is limited to meat; when you go to the trouble to cook, always prepare more than you need, including vegetables. If you have your oven on for a casserole or to roast something big, throw in any russet or sweet potatoes you have. Reheating a baked potato is a snap later in the week if the long baking process is behind you. Don’t only steam a few broccoli florets, use the whole bunch and toss leftovers in your eggs the next morning or on a salad. Eating at home saves you a shocking amount of money, and gives you much more control over the quality and portion sizes of your meals.
4. Give your leftovers a makeover: We tuck bowls covered with foil, Tupperware, and repurposed Cool Whip containers filled with leftovers in the fridge with the best of intentions, but the next day begins and suddenly the intention is lost and forgotten. COSTCO, Marshall’s, and Target, have glass containers with snap on plastic lids that will change your life. Not only can you clearly see what is in there, you can remove the lid and microwave it without dirtying another dish (or blasting plastic into your food). In addition, if you prep raw snack veggies such as celery, jicama or carrots and store them at eye level in the fridge in a container that you can see through, you just might choose this healthy snack instead of a bag of chips.
Even a few of these changes can help you reap big health benefits if they are incorporated into your routine. Start working this list, and this time next year, you just might be writing that novel.