Hi Everybody! I’m starting you off in 2017 with eating strategies I put in my bullet journal a while back. The interesting this is that ‘eating better’ may mean something different to each of us – we’re not all in the same stage of our food journey, but we’re all in this together, right? Considering resolutions, you may have heard the quote: “It takes __ days to form a habit and __ days to create a lifestyle”
Well, I left the amount of days blank for this reason (and because I really don’t remember). It was really easy for me to eat vegan meals and find alternatives that are satisfying and delicious. I could say I formed this habit in two weeks. A lifestyle is more difficult to define – firstly, do I even consider eating vegan a to be a lifestyle for myself? Secondly, I’m not a ‘purist’ vegan by any means: I don’t care if my vegan burger patty touches a meat-contaminated grill; I pick around bits of cheese if I already decided to have an otherwise vegetarian entrée; I don’t wince at plant-based margarine (not the same as 100% vegan) used for the occasional grilled sandwich when my brand is gone.
Maybe I’ll be ‘vegan enough’ after my first year, April 2017.
Until I decide how long a new lifestyle takes to adapt to it, I’m here to help you get a start on eating better for you – no matter what that means or how long it takes. Each strategy has two parts: 1. Cut back on products consumed regularly or in excess. 2. Replace it with a better option: nutritiously better? Non-processed better?
We’re not necessarily told what to eat, so I can’t tell you what will be better – just that you can do it!
I originally wrote ‘cut out’, but realized that’s a phrase for you to write in when you’re ready. When you’re freed from whatever ‘food’ has a forced hold on you, go ahead and take it completely out of your grocery cart for however long makes sense, but ask yourself: What is the better option for me?
Cut back on beverages with sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
Replace with water!
Drinks containing the ingredients above leave you dehydrated and may cause you to crash later in the day. H20 may be a simple solution to nourish your body, but for many of us, it’s just so…watery. You can concoct the perfect agua fresca that will arguably be much better for you than a soft drink, coffee or beer. Whether it be fruity or bubbly, water can be infused with many herbs and vegetables to quench your thirst.
How to start: Make a small change every meal. If you drink 2 cups of coffee in the morning, drink only 1 and replace the other with water.
2. Meals Out
Cut back on meals bought at work, school or while shopping.
Replace with meals from home!
Some say it’s tempting, others say it’s just more convenient to grab a cheap hot lunch during busy workdays, but what are food services really feeding you? You could probably make a tastier, more nutritious lunch yourself if you make the time for it. Even if every day out isn’t perfect, have fun with cooking in the evening by inviting family and friends to make dinner with you.
How to start: Make food you enjoy! For every meal you could eat out, see how many you can actually make at home instead – you might surprise yourself.
3. Excess Junk Food
Cut back on food products that are junky snacks and that contain meat or dairy!
Replace with Mindful Choices!
Favorite junk foods we can’t stop eating often contain 1 or more of 3 things: fat, salt and sugar. Classic party foods are often meat or dairy staples with high fat and calorie content. By finding alternative snacks that satiate a sweet, salty or even spicy craving, you may feel fuller and healthier if you give it a chance over time.
How to start: Try 2 news snacks a week! Find alternatives to your must-have snacks or make compromises. A step in the right direction is much better than mindless bingeing.
4. Processed Foods
Cut back on packaged meals, snacks and condiments.
Replace with Whole Foods!
Just as with junk food, a good strategy is to understand the difference between a whole food and a food product. Homemade pasta sauce is better than store bought. Even meals that aren’t strictly whole foods should be included. Homemade waffles are better than frozen waffles. For others, a big change could be to buy fewer bottled dressings and make your own instead.
How to start: Make 1 new food a week you would normally get store bought.
5. Condiment Abuse
Cut back on store bought dips, spreads and dressings.
Replace with Herbs and Spices in Home Cooking!
If you can see a pattern, these strategies build off of each other, with this last step being hard-core. But do you abuse condiments? Are there more jars and bottles than whole foods in your kitchen? Do you always use 1 serving or less of condiments when dressing your meals? If a dip is really a dunk and spread is more like slather, try this strategy!
How to start: experiment with 2 new condiment substitutes every week and cut back on the store bought ones gradually.
Share your New Year’s Resolutions and Tips for eating better in the comments!
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