Every New Year’s Day, millions of people around the world proclaim that this is the year that they’re going to change their ways and surround themselves with granola and quinoa like the nutrition guru they aspire to be. Every January 2, millions of people find themselves overwhelmed by that idea and decide to try again – next year.
Developing healthy eating habits isn’t about throwing away everything in your pantry or finding the meaning of life in a bottle of spicy lemon water. Instead, try making small, manageable changes to your normal routine. Here are a few simple ways that you can start living your best (and healthiest) life:
1. Try one new healthy recipe a week.
There are hundreds of resources to help you incorporate new, nutritious recipes into your weekly routine. By dedicating one night a week to trying something new, you’re setting an attainable goal and easing your family into the idea of conscious nutrition choices. It’s not easy to make the switch from junk food to vegetables but exploring options like cauliflower pizza crust or zucchini noodles can make it fun for the whole family!
2. Add plant-based proteins to your diet.
Bringing a few plant-based proteins into your world is a great way to add alternative sources of protein and fiber to your diet. Plant proteins tend to be less inflammatory and lower in saturated fats than animal proteins and can even help lower cholesterol and support heart health.
Whole grains, beans, and nuts are all excellent sources of protein. Start your day with a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal or add a handful of almonds to your salad for lunch. Hemp seeds are another surprising source of protein, and a natural source of magnesium, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Try adding hemp protein powder to a smoothie or sprinkle some raw hemp seeds on a salad or sautéed veggie dish.
3. Cut back on sugary drinks.
Most people forget (or choose to ignore) the amount of sugar in their favorite beverages. The American Heart Association recommends no more than nine teaspoons of sugar per day for men and no more than six teaspoons per day for women. To put it into perspective, one 12 oz soda can contain up to 35 grams of sugar – the equivalent of eight tablespoons.
Juices and coffee drinks can be deceptively sugary, too. But this doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite latte. Try a sugar-free option or swap it out for an herbal tea once or twice a week. If you’re craving soda, try a sparkling or fruit-infused water for a refreshing treat without all of those empty calories.
4. Slow down.
Sure, you’re busy. We all have days where we need to eat on the go, grabbing whatever we can in between meetings and carpools. One of the simplest ways to adopt healthier habits is to become more mindful of what you’re eating.
Take an extra moment to let your body tell you if you’re hungry or just eating out of boredom or habit. Sometimes, you can even begin feeling hungry if you aren’t drinking enough water. Paying more attention to your eating habits will also help you realize why you’re eating, so you can avoid emotional or stress-based eating.
5. Eat your veggies.
This one might seem obvious, but so many of us fall short. Loading your plate with fresh, seasonal vegetables is not only a great way to get necessary nutrients, doing so will help you feel full without turning to sugar or starchy carbs. Try substituting spaghetti squash for pasta, or snack on carrot sticks & hummus instead of chips. Incorporate vegetarian dishes into your weekly meal plan and experiment with different recipes until you find a few go-to favorites.
Changing your eating habits can seem impossible, but it doesn’t have to be. Making small adjustments to your routine, choosing healthier options, and becoming more conscious of what you’re putting in your body are simple steps you can take as you embark on a path to whole-body wellness.