The New Year is often considered a fresh start for most people and a time to make resolutions and set goals for the upcoming year. One of the most common goals is to eat healthier and change your diet. But with most diets, they are unsustainable and don’t last much past the end of January.
This can leave many people feeling defeated and discouraged from trying to make any sort of healthy changes in the future. As a functional medicine practitioner, my job is to help people make health attainable, realistic, and easy to implement into your daily life. Here is my guide to sticking to your healthy eating resolutions all year long.
1. Start out slow
Cleaning up your entire diet can be a daunting task. By focusing on swapping out or taking out one new food a week, you'll be able to ease into healthier eating. Most New Year’s resolutions and diets fail because they are unrealistic for a person’s lifestyle. Starting out slow and easing into a change can make this a true lifestyle chance rather than a one-and-done diet. Plus, you can take your time finding substitutions for your most beloved foods and recipes.
2. Find substitutions
Instead of just eliminating an entire food or food group out of your diet, find healthier substitutions that you can swap out for your favorites. This way, you can still enjoy a lot of the same meals that you love but with healthier ingredients. These are some of my favorite swaps:
Cauliflower rice instead of rice
Coconut aminos instead of soy sauce
Nut cheese instead of dairy cheese
Nut or coconut milk instead of regular milk
Coconut flakes instead of breadcrumbs
3. Batch cook
Making a different recipe for every single meal during the week can be overwhelming and expensive. Save yourself time and stress by cooking a large batch of a single recipe that can be portioned out throughout the week. This way you know you have healthy meals ready to grab, reheat, and go.
4. Check menus before going out
Being prepared is half the battle when it comes to making healthy decisions. Before going out to eat, check out the restaurant's menu beforehand so you’ll know what you want to order. This will help you make an educated, healthy choice so you feel less pressure to make a quick decision or give in to any possible peer pressure. You can also call the restaurant beforehand and see if they offer an allergy-friendly menu and ask what kind of substitutions they offer for certain menu items.
5. Stock up on snacks
Always having healthy snacks on hand will also help with the temptation to give in to temptation, especially if healthy options aren’t available. Stocking up on snacks made with clean ingredients will give you something to grab quickly that you can feel good about.
6. Don’t be afraid to say no
When at a friend or family member’s house, it can be tempting to give in when someone offers you something you either don’t like or can’t have. But it is always ok to politely decline something. Ultimately, no one’s day has ever been ruined because they turned down a dessert or other food item. They will forget, and you will feel good about your decision.
7. Shift the focus
Going out to eat or getting together for a meal is a popular way to socialize with others. But what if the food doesn’t really matter? While food is great, the main point of getting together is having a good time with your family and friends. Instead suggest other activities that don’t involve food or don’t solely revolve around it like bowling, hiking, a pottery class, or any other hands on activity.
8. Find a tribe
Making a change is always easier with the support of those around you, especially if they are making the change alongside you. Not only will they be able to offer encouragement to you during the difficult times, they can also give you helpful tips and ideas on how to make this healthy habit easier.
This is why I created my New Year 28-day Ketotarian and 4 week or 8 week The Inflammation Spectrum challenges. Whether you are looking to go more plant-based, or discover your individual food triggers, both challenges offer you access to a tribe of like-minded people doing the challenge alongside you. During the days of following a plant-based keto diet in Ketotarian or the elimination diet in The Inflammation Spectrum, you’ll be added into our private FB groups to have your questions answered, and receive additional encouragement, support, and tips from other people doing the challenges.
9. Give yourself grace
Use all of these tips as best as you can, but don’t stress. There should be a grace and lightness to wellness. You can’t control everything and chronic stress can be just as bad for your health as the foods you put into your body. And if you are constantly focusing on being perfect, it’s only a matter of time before your healthy eating resolutions are nowhere to be found. Remember, no one is perfect, and it is ok to slip up. What makes the difference is picking up wherever you left off and starting again.