10 Healthy Eating Habits to Start the New Year Right
This post written by guest blogger—Jessica Jager
1. Make a Weekly Menu
I find that when I have a game plan I am much better at staying on track for the week. Not only will making a weekly menu help you to feel more organized, it will also help you to avoid eating what’s quick and easy rather than planned and thought out. This weekly menu also prepares me for my weekly shopping trip to provide me with all of the ingredients I need on hand, which makes meal planning a cinch and preparation a thoughtless process. It will also save you time in the grocery store, giving you a distinct vision as to what you will need which in the long run will save you money and who doesn’t want that?
2. Visit a Local Farm
Local farms are found all over the country whether you are country mouse or a city mouse. Searching out local farms will not only support your local farmer but it will also cause you to be able to eat fresh and seasonal.
3. Eat More Veggies
Your mom had it right when she tried to get your to eat your carrots. Veggies do offer us a plethora of health benefits along with being quite tasty when prepared correctly. Veggies pack the strongest punch in being nutrient rich holding many vitamins and minerals we can’t find anywhere else. Making your diet more veggie friendly can also cut your grocery bill when you shop for items in season. So pick a veggie you haven’t tried before and search for a recipe you may be surprised at what your taste buds find to be pleasing!
4. Eat Breakfast
There are many different theories as to why eating breakfast is healthy. Number one after sleeping all night our bodies are running on empty and just as our cars can not run properly without fuel our bodies can not run efficiently without breakfast. Also without breakfast mid-morning snacks are inevitable and this also tends to be a snack that is grabbed when we are already on the go, which unless well prepared for can mean what is quick and readily available. This doesn’t always translate to something nutritionally balanced.
5. Don’t Make Food the Enemy
So often I hear people say, “Oh I can’t eat that,” or “I shouldn’t eat that,” or “That is bad for you.” I believe as a society in our culture we have made a list of good foods and bad foods. Whether it be white flour or refined sugar or heavens corn syrup we have demonized foods to the point of creating fear. I say all things in moderation. Although we all know a dessert full of fresh fruit and whipped cream is maybe healthier then a freshly bake crème brulee, I say if you want the crème brulee eat it and enjoy it. In my mind there is no such thing as bad foods or good foods. There are definitely foods we should probably avoid having on a daily basis, a treat is a treat and should be treated as such. You will feel much better if you allow your self to enjoy what you eat and you will be less likely to binge when faced with temptation.
6. Eat Intentionally
Make choices for yourself before you even sit down to eat. For example focus on a veggie goal for the day and set out to meet it. Maybe you are going to shoot for your 5 servings of veggies a day, use your weekly menu to set you up for success. When healthy ingredients are incorporated into your menu there is no guess work involved you will already know that you are getting what you need.
7. Avoid the Box
This is one that can be hard for some. I have heard from many that they don’t have time to cook or even they don’t know how to cook. These are legitimate concerns. I will address the latter later on. But as for the time issue, I like to keep some simple items on hand at all times that are my go to “I don’t have time to cook tonight” meals. These ingredients are health conscious and take very little time to prepare. Lets face it, even if you are popping a frozen boxed lasagna in the oven that is taking you 30-40 minutes minimum. That is no small amount of time folks.
So here are my ideas:
- Potatoes—oh man there is one of those items some think we should avoid—a baked potato can take the same amount of time in the oven to prepare as a frozen meal and you can top it will all sort of uber healthy stuff, veggies, yummy cheese, various meats. These brown roots can be turned into a nutritious healthy meal in no time at all.
- One of our family favorites is salad bar, I keep lettuce on hand at all times, not only is it a great and easy plate filler but in can be turned into its very own meal in a pinch add some hard boiled eggs and ham or bacon with some various veggies and with a bit of quick chopping you have a salad bar meal set for a king, my kids love the heck out of this meal!
Boxed food contains so many additives and unknowns. I have a rule that if I can’t determine an ingredient on the back of the box I don’t buy it…period. This rule alone makes me feel at ease when feeding myself and my family. Eating foods that start with whole ingredients is always the best way especially when they are grown in places I can easily travel to on farms that have the same food values as I do.
8. Eat Seasonally
There are a lot of folks talking about seasonal food these days aren’t there? Eating seasonally allows you to eat the most nutrient rich food that is probably ripened on the vine helping you to make choices that encourage you to eat things that have been grown as they were intended to be. There aren’t strawberries grown near me in WA at this time of year but there are an over abundance of root vegetables and the like for me to enjoy. So I enjoy strawberries through the jam a canned this summer and enjoy the root vegetables that are available fresh now. Eating seasonally is also a way to eat with integrity encouraging less shipping, more foraging, more local and less imported. It’s how we all ate until about 60 years ago.
9. Learn to Cook Something from Scratch Even if it’s Just One Thing
In this day and age we are so blessed by our access to so many forms of cooking resources. We have Food network with oodles of cooking shows and a cook to fit everyone’s taste, cook books galore, blogs and even whole magazines dedicated to different styles of cooking…there are even radio shows based on the topic. You can learn how to cook anything you want and the directions you can find even include step by step photos most of the time. I know people that claim they can not boil water and some that can create a five course meal perfectly paired with the right beverage. But no matter your skill level I challenge you to pick out a recipe and master it, if you are really bold even make it your own. Believe me you will not only taste the difference when you cook from scratch but I suspect that this will empower and encourage you to cook more which is always the healthier option.
This is everyone’s favorite. I always encourage people to make exercise part of the eating routine. In many countries families take a walk together after dinner. This is not only good for social interaction, but a chance to get your heart a beating and your feet a moving. Getting a bit of exercise in every day doesn’t have to mean a trip to the gym and can be a quick jaunt around the neighborhood or a walk around the yard, just make a point to do it everyday and I guarantee you will feel a difference.
There are many a resolutions made each New Year based on these very things. Lets pledge together to make some changes and be healthier!
Happy New Year To You And Yours!
Jessica Jager is an in Home Chef and Caterer and owner of The Angry Blueberry. Wife and mom to two sweet kids and a husband that complains very little about the amount of veggies she makes them eat. Jessica loves food, loves to eat it, teach about it and talk about it!