And even more likely, that something is diet-related. Your new year musings might include any of the following:Fewer cookies, more crunches. GRRR! Eat this, not that. Eat some things, not everything in sight. I’m not Cookie Monster. Om nom NOT. Lose [very mathematically specific] number of pounds, please! (Lord knows I’ve been there, as has my inspiration, Ms. Jones in the graphic above. Though the pursuit of them often makes me feel like Ms. Jones in the graphic below. Quick, hide from the calories! Bah!)
I’ll always be an advocate for those actively pursuing personal growth, especially when it comes to healthy living. I really do believe, as we were so wisely taught by Doc Brown and Marty McFly, that if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. I also believe in self-love and, just as critically, self-forgiveness when it comes to food and diet. While goals and aspirations are good and great, there’s more to each of us than numbers on a scale or calorie counts in a food diary. Love what’s inside. The outside is just that; exterior, not substantial.
It’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way, through my own personal weight loss journey. I know it sounds shmaltz-fest / Slimfast Testimonial-y to call it a “journey,” but really, that’s what it is. It took me almost 10 years to slowly shed more than 70 pounds, and even then, it’s still tough sometimes! I’ve had ups and downs, both on the scale and off, during the last decade.
Moreover, it’s taken me just as long to learn some real, adaptable, grounded “resolutions” for how to genuinely eat well. How to take pleasure in good, healthy food, and not let yourself feel owned by over-awareness or the process and pursuit of a “new you.” The “old you” is pretty great, even if her or she just wants to eat a little better.
Without going too over-the-top cheesy, and in the genuine spirit of new beginnings and excitement that each January 1st (or 2nd, hehe) can bring, I want to offer some of the hard-won lessons I’ve learned about healthy eating and cooking over the years. Here’s to making, keeping, and pursuing our individual resolutions, both in and out of the kitchen.
- Fill Up on the Good Stuff: The “50-30-20″ rule of plate proportions — 50% veggies, 30% lean protein, 20% healthy carbs (think whole grain) and healthy fats — is the basis for the US government’s “My Plate” suggestions, and it works! Don’t think of it as percentages, fractions, or any other headache-inducing business. Just try to eat lots of green things, some lean protein of either the animal or more earthy varieties, and some grainy goodness with good fat thrown in.
- Enjoy What You Enjoy: “All Things in Moderation, Including Moderation” — some wise person. This is a silly way of saying that denying yourself your “guilty pleasures” — chocolate, fried foods, dairy, whatever it may be — with a Spartan-like devotion will just lead to binging later. Have some chocolate after dinner, or a side of fries with your meal, or extra cheese on your sandwich. Just remember to balance. Small fry with a veggie burger and salad? Don’t mind if I do!
- You Ate It. Move On. Did you have an intimate encounter with a package of Oreos, and suddenly a quarter of the package is gone? Did you overeat on Thanksgiving like, um, 300 million other Americans? OK. It happened. And now … move on! Keep making good decisions, and forgive yourself for the “bad” ones. There’s always another meal, another day.
- It’s Always Better When You Make It Yourself. One of the biggest reasons why I learned to cook was to have more control over what I ate, and what the heck was in my food. Store-bought pasta sauce, for example, is filled with extra sugar and preservatives. Homemade sauce — even using canned tomatoes, which are an awesome source of lycopene — has none of the nutritional drawbacks and far more flavor and taste. Slowly, surely, learn to make your favorite foods. Chinese take-out can’t beat a home-cooked stir fry.
- Taste the Rainbow. The more colors you eat, the better you’ll feel. For me, this is a well-proven truth; the wider the variety of produce I nosh on, the happier I am. (Mostly, I wanted to make a bad “Skittles” joke, and now that I’ve accomplished that, the rest of this is just gravy.) Just think about it:
- RED: Tomatoes, radicchio lettuce, cranberries, cherries, strawberries, grapefruit
- ORANGE: Carrots, oranges, apricots, peaches, bell peppers, pumpkin
- YELLOW: Corn, lemons, pears, squash
- GREEN: Kale, spinach, broccoli, peppers, asparagus, Granny Smith apples
- BLUE: Blueberries, blackberries, acai
- PURPLE: Eggplant, black currants, purple grapes, purple potatoes & cauliflower
What are your tips for eating healthy in your day-to-day life? How have you learned to incorporate good eating in your regular diet? Do you have any food-related resolutions for 2013? Best of luck and happy eating to you in the New Year!