Everyone knows that sweeping self-improvement New Year’s resolutions get broken faster than you can say “I’d like the cheesecake for dessert, please.” Resolve to ban sugar forever, exercise every day or read every word of the New York Times seven days a week, and you’ll be lucky to last a month before you fall off the wagon. The key is to start small. In the improve-your-diet department, here are 13 tips to move yourself – and your family – in the right direction.
- Adopt Meatless Mondays – Going meatless just one day a week can reduce your risk of several chronic diseases as well as shrink your carbon footprint. VIPs from Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney to actress Emily Deschanel, The Biggest Loser’s Bob Harper and Food Network chef Giada De Laurentiis have endorsed the strategy for both the body and the planet.
- Try “clean eating” – Replace pizza and processed foods with fresh meats, produce and seasonal items. For help and sample menus created by a foodie mom who feeds her own family of six this way, see the eMeals Clean Eating plan – complete with ideas like Greek Chicken Wraps with Spinach Cantaloupe Salad that even a toddler can love.
- Dump the ‘bad’ oils – Banish butter and bacon grease and replace them with healthy fats like canola and olive oil. Try making your own salad dressing with oil and your favorite vinegar. Your cholesterol level will thank you.
- Eat breakfast every day – The old adage is true: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It fuels your body and brain with the energy you need to face the day. Whether it’s a smoothie, Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal or Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins, you can get quick and healthy breakfast ideas like these and much more from eMeals’ breakfast plans.
- Purge your pantry and fridge – Get rid of anything that’s expired or unhealthy, then restock with healthy staples like brown rice, dried beans, canned tuna and prepared pasta sauce for quick and nutritious meals.
- Brown-bag it at least 3 days a week – Pack your lunch for work or school to eat better – and save money too. You’ll find inspiration – and recipes for goodies like Turkey Pepperoni Pasta Salad – on eMeals’ lunch plan.
- Eat a colorful ROYGBIV diet – Red foods like tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, red bell pepper and red cabbage contain lycopene, which may reduce the risk of some cancers. Orange choices are filled with Vitamin A and carotenoids that are good for your eyesight. Blue/purple produce includes anthycyanins that support heart health. And green veggies contain isothyiocyanates that help flush cancer-causing compounds out of the body. Bonus: the Vitamin K in leafy greens helps regulate blood pressure too.
- Downsize your plates – We all tend to eat everything we put on our plates – and usually that’s way too much. If you start a meal with salad, that helps fill you up so you won’t overeat the rest of your dinner. You can also get ideas for portion-controlled meals here.
- Switch out soda – All of the calories in soda and sugary drinks are empty calories, meaning they contribute no healthy nutrients. Swap soda for calorie-free beverages like water or sparkling water (add a splash of lemon or lime for flavor), or beverages with some nutritional value, like skim milk or small amounts of 100% fruit juice.
- Add kale, quinoa or both to your plate – Just one cup of kale contains 180% of the daily requirement of Vitamin A, 200% of Vitamin C, and 1,020% of Vitamin K, making it a cancer-fighting superfood. Quinoa is a gluten-free whole grain and a complete protein ideal for gluten-free, vegetarian, or overall healthy diets. Start with the Walnut-Raisin Quinoa recipe – yum!
- Make half your plate fresh fruit and vegetables – Diets high in fruits and vegetables contribute to a reduced risk of heart disease, some cancers, obesity and Type II Diabetes. They’re also high in fiber, so they fill you up with fewer calories than other foods.
- Take the Paleo plunge – This one is for the more adventurous, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. The ‘caveman diet’ focuses on meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, fresh produce, tree nuts and seeds, and healthy fats, eliminating processed foods, grains, dairy, sugar, legumes and potatoes. You’ll find a printable shopping list here and sample menus here.
- Try meal planning and avoid the 6 o’clock drive through run – You’ll save time and money – and also eat healthier – when you plan ahead. eMeals can help by delivering weekly menus, recipes and grocery lists directly to your email inbox, saving hours of “What do I make for dinner?” angst, as well as ensuring variety and enabling efficient once-a-week food shopping.
What are you doing to eat healthier in 2013?