New year, new you? Unlikely. Despite what multifarious wellness websites say, life will never magically transform in Cinderella-esque fashion the moment the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, all because of a few New Years resolutions. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make your life better in the new year.
Resolution simply means “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” So, as long as there is commitment, anytime is the right time to create a better you. And, for most of us, a “better” version of ourselves typically equates to a healthier one. But the year 2021 comes on the heels of a global health crisis. Pandemic fatigue continues to socially isolate us, we’re learning how to balance every day stress, and on top of it all the fitness industry has been turned on its head with gym closures or new restrictions. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to have healthier, happier months ahead.
These 5 unexpected food resolutions are not only simple to follow, but each one comes with three key benefits: weight control (or loss), increase in energy, and better time management. Think of them as the “why”, “where”, “what”, “how”, and “when” method to eating.
1) Shop Often To Buy Less
Wholesale clubs like CostCo and BJ’s encourage one of pitfalls of American culture: buying in bulk. They send the subliminal message of, “Here’s 10x’s more than you need, but because it’s discounted you’ll save more money.” Therein, when it comes to food, it actually encourages something else: wastefulness. But whether you belong to a wholesale club or not, you likely limit your visits to the grocery store. However, when you make a food resolution to have grocery shopping part of your weekly, or biweekly, schedule it could actually benefit you in the long run.
The next time to make a food run, ask yourself “why” are you going. Is your fridge low on something? Does the pantry needs restocking? Did all of your perishables perish? Make an itemized list and resolve to purchase only what you actually need. When you buy from the mind, not the stomach, it will become easier to stick to your food resolutions as a whole. Plus, you’ll save all of that extra time and money in the store.
Tip: to eat healthy, purchase things from the perimeter of the grocery store.
2) Organize The Fridge
How many of us open up the refrigerator just because we’re bored? I used to check mine repeatedly, as if I’d find something new each time it opened. Then I came across a helpful habit– I organized the fridge. I found that, like a messy closet, organizing the fridge helped me make quicker, more instinctual decisions. It also looked a lot cleaner.
So, now that the groceries are purchased, “where” you place those items will impact your decision during meal time. To start, I recommend these four sections:
- Beverages: juices, water, milk, etc.
- Produce: fruits, veggies, maybe even dairy
- Leftovers: precooked food that needs to be reheated
- Bottled goods: sauces, dressings, anything in a jar
You can apply this food resolution to your pantry as well, with the least healthy foods at the top and the most used on the bottom. Unhealthy snacks are a lot less appealing if you have to grab a stepping stool to eat them.
3) Prepare Meals Ahead
When we focus on “what” we eat we begin to consider our food choices, rather than mindlessly noshing on whatever is in our [newly organized] fridge. While social media oftentimes shows chicken and broccoli for an entire week straight (easy to make, but it doesn’t exactly get the mouth watering), this food resolution is about being excited for your next meal.
- A pre-made salad without the dressing (soggy arugula? no thanks. put the dressing on after)
- Grilled veggies over grains
- Yogurt with fruit, honey, and chia seeds
- Any meat with leafy greens
You can plan lunch and dinner, one or the other, or an entire few days ahead. The goal is to create a consciousness surrounding food, one meal at a time.
4) Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a term that refers to food awareness, or being emotionally present while eating. That means eliminating screen time during meal time– no TV, computer, or cell phones– and remain focused on what is on your plate, or in your hand. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to feel full, so being present while we eat gives our body time to digest, with the added bonus of slowing down how much we consume.
This food resolution will allow you to hear your body better– what it craves, when you’re hungry, and when you are full– which leads to weight control. Science suggests that, beyond weight loss, mindful eating connects our emotional, mental, and physical intelligence when it comes to food. It enhances how food tastes, the way it smells, and even how it looks, and starts to reshape “how” we eat.
5) Schedule Intermittent Fasting
“When” we eat is just as important as “what” we eat. Back in 2018, I reported on the benefits of intermittent fasting for my wellness column in the Hamptons, along with the common types. Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that partaking in intermittent fasting results in the body burning fat because it uses up all of its sugar storage. This leads to cell repair, a sharper memory, increased heart health, and better physical performance.
If you don’t think I.F. is for you, consult with your doctor. Once you’re ready, I suggest trying this food resolution, in some form, twice a month or more. It’s easy to stick to the 16/8 method (fasting for 16 hours and eating for eight). Think of it like only eating from 9 AM to 5 PM. Then, when you’re ready, try fasting for a full day or limiting yourself to one healthy meal per day.
These 5 unexpected food resolutions for 2021 answer the daily “why”, “where”, “what”, “how”, and “when” we are eating. But as you answer them also remember that the “who” of it all is you, and only you know what works for your body.